It’s time for summer color in your landscaping but when you’re trying to add those pops of color to a shady area — whether its a planting bed or container on a covered patio, it can be hard to find the right plants. Here are just a few of our favorite plants for summertime color in the shade.

New Guinea Impatiens

New Guinea ImpatiensNew Guinea Impatiens are a fantastic choice for annual color in shady spots. We use New Guinea Impatiens for many reasons. In addition to being great in shady spots, the blooming cycle for these flowers is spectacularly long. You’ll see blooms from the time you plant (which you can do now) through summer and into fall as long as the weather stays warm. When using New Guinea Impatiens, we suggest planting them in front of shrubs such as Laurels, Boxwood or Holly. Most annuals look dwarfed in front of large shrubs like those but New Guinea Impatiens hold their own, growing to around 14 inches tall with a spread of about 12 inches. In addition to standing tall, the bright color varieties really pop in front of simple shrubs with dark foliage.

Variegated Hostas

variegated-hostas-carex-design-groupAlthough most people think of flowers when they’re thinking about adding color to a landscaping, Hostas have foliage that can certainly get the job done. Hostas are available in hundreds of varieties (think lime green or even blue!). And when you use a variegated variety, you’ll only add to the color pop potential. Variegation can be white, green or yellow. We love the white variegation because it adds a lot of light to dark, shady planting beds, and it can tolerate more sun than most Hostas because it reflects more of that summertime sunshine.

Hostas paired with Heuchera

Hostas paired with Heuchera

Although Hostas have blooms that pop out from tall stalks, which grow from the center of the plant, those blooms are short-lived and pale in comparison to this plant’s amazing foliage.

We like to pair Hostas of any kind with fine-textured shrubs such as Boxwood or Abeila (or anything with tiny leaves). It’s also a great choice with rough-textured plants such as Heuchera or Oakleaf Hydrangeas.


HeucheraLike Hostas, Heuchera (or Coral Bells as it’s commonly known) come in a variety of colors. A few of our favorites are:

  • Mocha, a deep, rich dark burgundy (almost coffee) color
  • Peach Flambe, with its orange and pinkish/yellow hue
  • Miracle, a multi-colored light green, peach and orange color that shifts throughout the year depending on the season
  • Crème brûlée with a peach and caramel color and burgundy on the underside of its leaves

The name Coral Bells comes from this plant’s flowers, which are small, white bell-shaped blooms that grow out of stalks that rise up out of the plant. Like Hostas, we use this plant more for its foliage than its bloom because its in bloom for only about a week or two during late summer.

Most Heuchera love partial shade to partial sun while specific species tolerate more sun. In Knoxville landscaping, these plants are semi-evergreen. They typically look a little sad in the winter but with a quick clean up of dead foliage, they’re ready to shine again in early spring.

We like to pair Heuchera with Hostas or plant them in front of Laurels and other fine-textured or smooth-textured plants such as Yew or Nano Cryptomeria.

To learn more about plant texture, check out our blog post “Let’s Talk Texture in Your Landscape Design.” Or to dive into color, check out the blog post “How to Pair Perfect Plant Color Combos.”

If you need help brightening up a shady space this summer, fill out our contact form or call 865-765-5550.