Perennials for Part Shade


direct sun for 3 hrs, or dappled light

sorted alphabetically by Scientific name




Note: A large number of plants are flexible in respect to their light needs and can grow in full sun as well as part shade.





Flowers of Geranium macrorrhizum 'Spessart', like all Bigroot Geraniums, attract butterflies and other pollinating insects.


Bigroot Geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum)


This beautiful plant  happens to be one of the very best groundcovers.

Sprouts out vigorously in the spring with robust foliage that quickly forms a dense mass of leaves 12" high, efficiently shading out weeds. The flowers appear late spring and are quite charming, but the amazing spicy fragrance is released from the foliage as the wind rubs the leaves on each other on dry, sunny days.

The aroma protects the plant from deer damage. I have not observed any pest or diseases on Bigroot Geranium. In the fall, foliage takes on reddish tints.


Bigroot Geranium grows in sun or shade. It accepts difficult growing conditions such as lean, rocky soil. I use it extensively as a groundcover among shrubs and on slopes to help minimize erosion.


Available varieties are: 'Spessart' with near-white flowers, 'Bevan's Variety' and 'Czakor' have magenta-purple flowers, and 'Ingwersen's Variety' is medium pink.



Cranesbill 'New Hampshire Purple' (Geranium sanguineum 'New Hampshire Purple') is another good low-growing groundcover. It is also very adaptable, but it is not as dense and efficient as Bigroot Geranium. The flowers appear for a long time and are a beautiful strong purple. If weeds are not a problem, this is a good and beautiful filler among other perennials and shrubs. I especially like to use 'New Hampshire Purple' with white-flowered partners.



Gayfeather (Liatris spicata) is a very easy-going perennial for full, hot sun, but it tolerates part shade as long as there is also a good amount of diffuse light avalilable. In respect to the soil requirements, it is extremely adaptable.


the attractive vertical flower spikes are beautiful in the summer border, especially when combined with orange-yellow Rudbeckia, Achillea and Coreopsis. It is a butterfly-magnet.


'Floristan Violet' and 'Floristan White' are taller varieties, reaching 3 ft. in height. The 'Kobold'-seed-strain is medium sized, and the original 'Kobold' that is propagated vegetatively is the shortest, reaching only 15 inches.

Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata) is a perfect border perennial with colorful and usually fragrant flowers, a long bloom season. My phloxes thrive in part shade, but they are also excellent in full sun.

In my opinion, phlox needs good soil that can store some moisture for dry summer periods, and that is reasonably fertile. I also recommend good airflow for this plant in order to minimize the risk of powdery mildew, a foliage disease. 



'Robert Poore' (left) and also the variety 'David' (above) have never shown mildew problems in my gardens.


Compare the foliage of Phlox 'Robert Poore' and a variety that is susceptible to powdery mildew. The photos are taken in the same garden bed, within a few feet from each other.


This photo shows how careful plant selection can make a huge difference in the appearance of a planting, and also in  maintenance needs. Low maintenance gardening is largely about the right practices and sustainable plant choices.




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