Tender Plants for Shaded Planters

tender plants for shaded planters
tender plants for shaded planters

These tender plants and annuals do well in my shaded planters. Other than the lobelia, they will drop at the first frost, so they can only go outside in May. Depending on our fall weather, they will bloom until September, or up to October if we are lucky.

Begonia 'Ruffled White' flowers
Begonia ‘Ruffled White’ flowers

The Begonia ‘Ruffled White’ live up to their descriptive name, with plenty of rippled petals. They look like carnation flowers, but will have a much longer bloom period. I add begonias to most of my planters, because the large blooms with lots of petals are very showy, and bloom all summer. The begonias never complain about a shaded site, even on my front porch where there is really no direct light.

Begonia 'Double Camelia Pink'
Begonia ‘Double Camellia Pink’

Begonia ‘Double Camellia Pink’ is very attractive with the lighter pink bud of petals in the middle. This is the first year I’ve tried it, and I’m pleased with how good the flowers look. I have the Begonia ‘Nonstop Pink’ as well, which put on a terrific display. This planter has some double flowering Impatiens in a light pink apple blossom colour to go with the dark and light pink begonias. You can see more begonias and shade plants in this previous article.

Begonia 'Picotee Lace Pink' and lobelia
Begonia ‘Picotee Lace Pink’ and lobelia

Begonia ‘Picotee Lace Pink’ is a frilly begonia, with slightly lighter tips to the petals. I grew this begonia last year, too. It is full of blooms, and keeps producing them all summer long. This one is competing for space with some cascading Lobelia erinus ‘Regatta Sky Blue’. The two flowers have the same colour intensity, so they work well in the same planter.

Lobelia erinus 'Regatta Sky Blue' trailing flowers
Lobelia erinus ‘Regatta Sky Blue’ trailing flowers

Most of the planters have Lobelia erinus ‘Regatta Sky Blue’ cascading down over them. This trailing lobelia has an abundance of pretty, blue flowers that don’t take up much room in the soil, but provide lots of blooms, half obscuring the sides of these dark blue pots. This flower is an expert at mingling and goes with just about any plant. It likes some extra water, like many of the other plants in these containers.

Lobelia erinus 'Riviera' with little blue flowers
Lobelia erinus ‘Riviera’ with little blue flowers

Lobelia erinus ‘Riviera Sky Blue’ is an upright mounding lobelia. I usually use it in my flowers beds, but I’ve planted some in the containers as well. These short plants are nestling back in, under some of the larger leaves. They add a splash of blue in contrast to the darker leaves. The lobelia are the hardiest of all of the plants in the containers. They can flower through some of the first light frosts, so you get a long bloom time from early season until October or so. In Edmonton our summers are fairly mild, so the lobelia performs very well.

Caladium white and green leaf pattern
Caladium white and green leaf pattern

This is a no-name Caladium with very eye-catching white and green markings. I like to know the exact variety or cultivar of a plant, so if I enjoy it, I can find it again. Unfortunately, this plant was not named or labelled. The lighter colour was appealing for the shade, in order to show up better against the shadows. There are some white begonias in this planter, but from this camera angle the large tropical Caladium leaves are obscuring them. You can just see a few white petals petals at the edges. This pot has green, white and blue colours in it.

red Caladium ladybug and Begonia
red Caladium ladybug and Begonia

This red patterned Caladium is colour matched by the red begonia. Then the red ladybug decided to accessorize the right planter. There is blue lobelia cascading down around the pot too.

Fuchsia 'Swingtime' pink and white flowers
Fuchsia ‘Swingtime’ pink and white flowers

I’ve planted Fuchsia ‘Swingtime’ for the last couple of seasons, as its flowers are exceptionally pretty. The darkest pink fat buds open to show the flaring white petals inside. It’s an eye-catching combination that looks fantastic swinging from the planters. In a warmer climate the Fuchsia would have a longer life, but here the tender plants gets a brief summer to flower.

Fuchsia 'Swingtime' dancing octopus
Fuchsia ‘Swingtime’ dancing octopus

I don’t even see a fuchsia flower when I look at this photo. All I see is a dancing pink octopus in a frilly white tutu. He’s mastered dancing en pointe.

Colocasia 'Bikini Tini' elephant ear leaf from front
Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’ elephant ear leaf from front

This year I planted some Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’ (elephant ears). The colouring on the leaves is fantastic, including a slight bluish cast. For the last three years I’ve planted Colocasia in my back planters that get a brief exposure of early morning light, and then dappled light through the willow leaves for the rest of the day. These plants do fantastic in this location, up until the cold weather.

Colocasia 'Bikini Tini' elephant ear leaf from behond
Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’ elephant ear leaf from behond

Bikin Tini looks even better from behind. You can see the slight bluish-green glaucus cast of the leaf, and the darker ribs. Plus, you can see the intricate network of veins swirling across the leaf. I would definitely get this particular Colocasia again, as it is a knockout plant.

Zantedescha calla lily
Zantedescha calla lily

This Zantedescha (calla lily) has terrific speckled leaves, and fiery red flowers. I always look for the calla lilies with speckled leaves, as the pattern looks like sunlight is playing across them throughout the day. These plants get mostly dappled light, and a bit of early morning sun.

Zantedescha calla lily leaf with speckles
Zantedescha calla lily leaf with speckles

Here is a closeup of the wonderful speckles on the large Zantedescha leaf. I like some bold leaves in the planters around the back patio, otherwise the small flowers look a little lost against the garden background. This planter also has some blue lobelia and pink begonias.

Schizanthus rose bicolor
Schizanthus rose bicolor

The annual Schizanthus ‘Rose bicolor’ does very well in the medium part shade on my back patio, but not on the deeper shade of my front porch. I’ve tried schizanthus in the planters that receive no direct light and it dies, so I save it for a part shade location. It gets paired up with some white begonias, and of course the pushy lobelia plants squeezed their way in at the edges.

Here are some of the shade pots from last year.

What do you like to put in your shaded planters?


15 thoughts on “Tender Plants for Shaded Planters”

  1. I love lobelia as well, it’s such a nice filler plant. And it’s great around here when June is often still so cold that the heat-loving annuals sulk. Some gardeners in other regions have complained that it doesn’t last through summer for them, but it does fine here in Spokane. The fact that it cools down 30 degrees at night in Spokane makes a big difference for many plants, I think.

    1. VWgarden, lobelia enjoys our cool summer, too. I think that they dry out too quickly in hotter climates as well. Their habit of dancing around the other plants makes them perfect for a container.

      Plant Stands, the speckled leaves of these calla lilies adds some sparkle in the shade.

  2. I ‘discovered’ tuberous begonias around town here this year, and some of their stunning shade colors – both flowers and leaves. Yours look impressive. Can you overwinter them (or the tubers) indoors I wonder?

    1. Ray, you can overwinter the tubers in a dry place, but I usually just start with new ones in the spring. The tuberous begonias really fill out a planter, because of the many petals on each flower, and they get a good number of blooms, too.

  3. All your flowers are so beautiful, but I especially love the fuchsias.
    I loved all the clematis in the irisgarden, I can’t say which one is my favorite.
    Have a nice weekend, Monika

  4. What fantastic inspiration for people that consider shade a problem. Have used Fuchsia Swingtime a lot, but maybe I should be trying begonias as well!

  5. Wow, the Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’ (elephant ears) are spectacular. Imagine an entire balcony planted in elephant ears, various forms of Caladium and Zantedescha. Could create an urban jungle…

    1. Kim, Bikini Tini is my favourite Colocasia that I’ve tried. The colour combination of purple stems and midribs and a blueish tinge to the leaves is good looking as a backdrop to the other plants. Plus, the large tropical leaves are eye-catching.

  6. All I can say is Ooh, la, la. What fabulous photos! I love the pink octopus wearing a tutu. The Begonia with the Lobelia is outstanding. This post is so instructional. Even though one has a shady garden, they can still have color. All the more reason to embrace your shade! Love it.

    1. Grace, the pink octopus in the white tutu is my favourite shot so far this year. After all, if an octopus has a dream to be a ballerina and works hard enough, anything is possible.

      The lobleia has grown quite a bot since this photo, and is cascading all around.

    1. Köögikata, the fuchsia is very nice looking, and it is growing very well, too. You have to admire its ability to bloom so beautifully with no direct light.

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