HOME: BEST FLOWERS FOR SUMMER SHADE

I’ll preface this blog post by fully admitting I am not a gardener, florist, or one who even knows much about landscaping, flowers, and tending to your yard.  What I do know is what flowers thrive in our yard, and that is wisdom I can share!

Our backyard has two beautiful, gigantic oak and locust trees.  These trees frame the back of our house and are so tall and old that they provide a natural canopy of shade over our deck and backyard.  Although we appreciate these beauties, especially on hot days, I have struggled with finding flowers that will keep blooming all summer long. 

I have done a little bit of research, but really the variety of flowers I’m going to share are those that I have found through trial and error.  This June marks the fourth year in our house and every year I have at least one flower pot that doesn’t make it because the flowers I bought need sun and the poor pretties just weren’t happy.  

But I’m happy to share that I have found three varieties of flowers that love an area that is mostly shaded with some bouts of afternoon sun.  

Begonias

I’m actually listening to Scarlet Begonias by the Grateful Dead as I write this and it’s making me so happy. Two years ago I read that begonias like partial sun and shade so I tried planting them and they thrived in my garden boxes. I actually love begonias but they are really hard to find in Ohio. I was lucky to find some bright coral ones the past two years, but this year the begonias at the nursery didn’t look so great, so I sadly had to pass.

Begonias love morning sun and afternoon shade. They don’t do well with cold temperatures and can quickly die with a frost, but they do love hot climates. I highly recommend planting some of these tropical, bright florals if you have shaded summer beds because they sure do look pretty. (Side note: These are not pet friendly so I don’t recommend it if you have a pet that eats your foliage. I planted these in my window boxes in the past so Gryff couldn’t get them).

Petunias

Petunias are definitely a popular variety of flower here in Northwest Ohio. They are easy to care for, don’t need a ton of watering, and although it’s recommended they get full sun, my petunias always do really well. These are not typically what people recommend for shaded yards, but I’ve always had success with them. I always exclusively plant petunias in my front garden because it does get more sun, but they do surprisingly well in my backyard too. I think because we do get pockets of sun throughout the day, it’s enough to keep them happy.

Wave Pansies

These are a new addition to our flower boxes this year, so the verdict is still out. BUT I did do some research and pansies thrive in cooler climates and partial sun. Even on 90 degree days, the deck stays pretty cool because of the natural shade. We will see how they do come July and August when it gets hot in Ohio, but right now, these heart shaped beauties are loving life in their window box outside our kitchen. I bought purple and yellow ones and planted some hot pink petunias with them and to see these bright, happy colors through my kitchen window brings me so much joy. Also a fun fact, pansies are edible! You can use pansies as a garnish on salads or desserts.

I will say that almost every year I try to plant sunpatiens because I think they are so pretty and they always flourish in my mom’s yard.  But they sadly do not like my yard and the lack of sun.  Through my research I did find that black eyed susans, lily-of-the-valley, violets, and primroses love shaded areas, so if your yard lacks sun like mine, these varieties might be good to try. 

I do want to point out too that I think it’s important you try to grow plants and flowers that are native to your area.  Native plants are good for wildlife such as birds and butterflies.  They are lower maintenance, require less watering, and don’t need fertilizers and pesticides. They also filter storm water which is really important for keeping our waterways (like Lake Erie!) clean and free from pollutants and algae.  When we landscape next summer, I’m going to make sure that the plants we choose are native to Ohio – I’m already looking at blue vervain, columbine, and goldenrod.

Anyways, I hope my experience with planting flowers in partial sun/shade gives you some more variety to choose from if you have a shady yard like we do.

Happy planting!

Slainte,

Shannon