7 Easy Flowers for Your Garden That Don't Need Sunlight
These low-light blooms will transform even the shadiest of gardens, experts say.
When it comes to growing your garden, there are a few key resources that plants just can't live without. Each seedling needs fertile ground, water, air, ample space to grow, and sunlight to survive. That said, some flowers can bloom in areas with very little sunlight—and finding the right plants for these low-light areas can completely transform each one from a barren plot of dirt into a colorful oasis.
To ensure success, you'll need to meet all of the other conditions those plants need to survive and thrive. In particular, it's important to keep the soil moist, packed with nutrients, and well-drained, says Lorraine Thompson, a home and garden expert and the CEO and founder of the website Best Florist Review.
However, the most important thing you can do to make your low-light garden grow takes place not in the garden, but in the plant nursery as you make your selection of species. Read on to learn which easy flowers will flourish in your low-light areas, so you can set yourself up for gardening growth.
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7 Flowers That Don't Need Sunlight
Begonias are one of the best flowers for shady areas: Not only are they easy to grow, but they also come in a variety of colors, shapes, and styles to choose from.
"Begonias are understory plants used to living under the shadow of much larger shrubs, trees, and canopies. They are also stunning, ample, luxuriant, and velvety plants that love growing in the shade," says Elle Meager, a qualified permaculture teacher and the founder and CEO of the website Outdoor Happens.
Meager notes that rather than simply preferring low-light areas, begonias can react poorly to direct sun exposure.
"The secret to growing begonias is avoiding overly wet soil and sunlight. Most cultivars I've tried react poorly to full sun, so try planting them under your front yard oak tree, alongside a building with afternoon shade, or even in your fully shadowed corner garden," she says.
According to Thompson, impatiens are another popular type of annual flower that can thrive in shady areas.
"They bloom in a variety of colors, including pink, red, orange, and white," she tells Best Life, "They are easy to grow and can add a pop of color to any garden."
Meager agrees that impatiens "are arguably the best low-light flowers." She notes that they have "tremendously low light requirements, are remarkably colorful, and grow up to three feet tall, making them an undeniable showstopper for your backyard, flower garden, walkway, or hanging pots."
Violets also top Meager's list of best low-light flowers because they're "beautiful, flashy, and tolerate partial sun and speckled shade."
She explains that violets can bloom with only two to four hours of daily sunlight, making them an excellent addition to your shaded garden. "I love planting pansies [a type of viola] around deciduous trees and shrubs, where they still get a few hours of early sunlight and plenty of afternoon shade."
Meager adds that violets also make great pollinator garden flowers. "Butterflies and bees love them!"
4. Bleeding Hearts
Thompson also suggests planting bleeding hearts in low-sunlight areas around your garden. These beautiful perennial flowers, named for their distinct, heart-like shape, bloom in the spring with striking pink and white blossoms.
Though romantic in their appearance, these plants are hardy and versatile—as long as you meet their basic needs. "They prefer well-drained soil and can be grown in containers or directly in the ground," says Thompson.
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Rhododendrons produce beautiful red, pink, white, or purple flowers in the spring, making them another colorful addition to your flower garden.
As Meager notes, rhododendrons love growing in partial or dappled shade rather than full sunlight, so they should perform well with just a few hours of morning sunlight and then shade in the afternoon.
"The main tricks to growing rhododendrons are soil and drainage," Meager says, adding that they need acidic soil. "Ensure the site where you grow rhododendrons doesn't hold water for too long. They have relatively sensitive roots, so too much water-logging can kill them."
Browallias are another type of perennial flower that prefer sun-dappled shade. "Browallias are native to Central and South America but have been cultivated in many parts of the world for their attractive, very showy flowers," says Susan Brandt, founder of the gardening website Blooming Secrets.
She adds that these plants are easy to grow, require minimal care, and are very tolerant of heat and drought.
"They are also popular as ornamental plants due to their long blooming period and wide range of colors. Browallias are an excellent choice for gardeners looking for a low-maintenance flower with long-lasting blooms," she tells Best Life.
Finally, if you're looking for ample ground coverage, hostas are extremely shade-tolerant foliage plants. However, as Brandt points out, they do produce small, funnel-shaped flowers that are pleasing to the eye.
"They are also known for their ability to thrive in shady areas, making them an ideal choice for any garden. Hosta plants come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, providing gardeners with plenty of options when it comes to choosing the perfect plant for their landscape," she says.