Colourful Shade Plants

Credit: iStockphoto/DiftDave


Q: I am looking for a somewhat colourful shade plant maybe 8″ high to put in between my hostas. Do you have any suggestions?

During the summer, impatiens and begonias look bright over a long period of time (May to October). They are not expensive, so this is a long bloom time for a reasonable price.

I plant dwarf daffodils (such as ‘Katie Heath’, ‘Jack Snipe’ or ‘Tète-à-tète’) between my hostas for some flowers in early spring. The shade in my garden is from deciduous trees, so early spring has enough sun for the bulbs to thrive. Anemone blanda is also pretty in spring and goes dormant in summer. Cyclamen hederifolium blooms beginning in September, flowering before the leaves fully emerge. The foliage is attractive all winter, giving something for when the hostas are dormant. Spring vetchling (Lathyrus vernus) is a dwarf pea relative that looks sweet in spring.

In terms of evergreen perennials, I like the small, white-variegated sedge called Carex conica ‘Snowline’, which is cheerful, as well as the diminutive Cardamine trifolia. It has dark green leaves and the new growth is bright green, giving a two-tone effect. It has white flowers in spring. Euonymus fortunei ‘Harlequin’ creeps and has clean white variegation.