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5 New Shade-Tolerant Annuals for Your Garden

By Heather Blackmore for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Unlike perennials that return from year to year, annuals have one growing season to strut their stuff. As such, annuals bloom continuously from spring to fall as opposed to hardy plants that cycle in and out of bloom over that same period. You can count on shade-loving annuals to provide constant color beneath trees and in notoriously shady areas like that north-facing side of your home that needs some sparkle.

Before we look at five exciting new annuals for shade, let’s talk about the different types of shade and how they are defined. When determining how much light your porch, deck, patio or landscape receives, it’s best to observe it throughout the day and make a note of how the sun moves through the area. Then, calculate the number of hours the space receives light to know what kind of shade you have. Here’s a breakdown of the different types, which you will also find noted on plant labels:

  • Part shade – four to six hours of direct sun, with most coming from “cool” morning sun
  • Part sun – four to six hours of sun per day, including some direct afternoon sun
  • Full shade – less than four hours of direct sun per day

Once you know what kind of shade you have, you can get to the fun part – new plants! It’s time to brighten those dim spaces with pops of annual color. Here are five new varieties that will bring life to your shaded nooks and container gardens.

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Catalina® Pink Wishbone Flower (Torenia)

You’ll be amazed at how fast one Catalina Pink wishbone flower fills a container! It’s fabulous in the landscape too, where its mounding/trailing habit adds an airy touch to shade borders. Large, snapdragon-like pink flowers cover the plant all season long. In the morning, be on the lookout for sleepy bumblebees snoozing inside the flowers. Heat tolerant wishbone flower performs well in sun or shade in both southern and northern gardens.

In the landscape, this flowering annual benefits from an application of compost or Proven Winners Continuous Release Plant Food at planting time. For best performance in containers, apply Proven Winners Premium Water Soluble Plant Food once a week to keep the blooms coming.

Details: Grows 8-12" tall and wide in sun or shade. Plant with Lemon Coral® sedum, Heart to Heart® caladiums and ColorBlaze® coleus.

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ColorBlaze® Cherry Drop Coleus

Coleus is all about fantastic foliage and this latest edition to the ColorBlaze® series delivers a mega dose of color in both sun and shade. Scalloped lime green edges accentuate the petite, deep velvety-red leaves that retain their intense color all season. Try this coleus in containers or hanging baskets where it will first mound, then cascade over the edges, or give it a go in the landscape as a dramatic annual groundcover. Slow to flower (if it flowers at all), it remains vigorous until frost ends the show.

Details: Grows 14-18" tall x 18-24” wide in sun or shade. Pair with Rockapulco® double impatiens, Illusion® sweet potato vines and Surefire® begonias.

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Double Delight® Appleblossom Begonia

Here’s a new begonia worthy of some up close and personal admiration not only for its beauty but because it is fragrant! That’s an elusive trait for begonias. Emitting a light citrusy fragrance, its large, double, white and soft pink bicolor flowers cascade elegantly over the edges of containers and hanging baskets. In northern climates, this begonia performs well in full sun, but southern gardeners will need to give it some afternoon shade. Also try series companions, Double Delight Primrose and Double Delight Blush Rose begonias.

Details: Grows 8-14" tall x 12”-2’ wide in part sun to sun. Plant with Summer Wave® torenia, Heart to Heart® caladiums and Endless™ Illumination bush violet.

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Heart to Heart® ‘Rain or Shine’ Caladium

Planted in mass in the landscape or as the “thriller” element in a container recipe, Heart to Heart® ‘Rain or Shine’ caladium is extraordinary every day, rain or shine. Soft pink speckles adorn the large, uniquely colored, bronze pink-red leaves with black veining. This vigorous tropical plant screams, “Look at me!" Compared to many caladiums, ‘Rain or Shine’ is more sun tolerant and faster growing which is especially advantageous for northern gardens where the growing season is shorter. However, it also thrives in part shade settings.

Details: Grows 15-20" tall x 8-10" wide in sun or shade. Pair with Rockapulco® double impatiens, Blushing Princess® sweet alyssum and Sweet Caroline Medusa™ Green sweet potato vine.

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Solenia® Scarlet Rieger Begonia

Non-stop flower power is the hallmark of Solenia begonias, and you will love the stunning scarlet, double, ruffled blossoms of Solenia Scarlet. They resemble little tea roses, and you’ll enjoy them all season long as they bloom continuously without deadheading on mildew-resistant plants. Standing 8-12” tall and wide, this begonia works well as an edging plant in the landscape if your soil is well-drained or as a filler element in container recipes.

Details: Grows 8-12" tall and wide in part sun to sun. Pair with Snowstorm® Giant Snowflake® bacopa, Heart to Heart® caladiums and Prince Tut™ dwarf Egyptian papyrus.

Learn more about shade-loving plants from Proven Winners:

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Patent Information: Catalina® Pink Torenia USPPAF CanPBRAF; ColorBlaze® Cherry Drop Coleus scutellarioides; Double Delight® Appleblossom Begonia tuberhybrida USPPAF CanPBRAF; Endless™ Illumination Browallia USPP18925; Heart to Heart® ‘Rain or Shine’ Caladium hortulanum USPP33614; Blushing Princess® Lobularia USPP24516 Can4779; Sweet Caroline Medusa™ Green Ipomoea batatas USPP34146 Can6646; Solenia® Scarlet Begonia USPP15575; Snowstorm® Giant Snowflake® Sutera cordata USPP17886 Can2861

Heather Blackmore is a Chicago-area gardener, writer and speaker who hopes her passion will inspire others to find their way to a happier, healthier life in the garden.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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