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The Best New Shade Perennials for 2014

Electrify the darkest corners of your landscape with shade-loving perennial flowers. Here are some of our top picks for 2014.

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    • The Best New Shade Perennials for 2014

      Every year, dozens of new varieties of perennials come on the market. We've narrowed down our favorite perennials for shade to help you brighten up your garden this year.

    • Cinnamon Curls Coralbells

      The first time we saw 'Cinnamon Curls' coralbells, we knew it would be a standout in our Test Garden. That's because it has rich reddish-bronze foliage that's beautifully curled and wavy. We grew 'Cinnamon Curls' in the ground and in containers; it performed exceptionally well in both situations. In midsummer, the plants send up spikes of small, bell-shape white flowers.

      Name: Heuchera 'Cinnamon Curls'

      Growing conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 8–12 inches tall, 12–16 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Proven Winners

    • Carnival Fall Festival Coralbells

      Put a little magic in your shade garden with ‘Fall Festival’ coralbells. This easy-care perennial develops masses of pinkish leaves with a light silver overlay. ‘Fall Festival’ forms a tight mound that works well in pots and planters or as an edging plant in the shade border. It’s also heat- and drought-resistant.

      Name: Heuchera ‘Fall Festival’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 10–12 inches tall, 12–14 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Ball Hort

    • Carnival Rose Granita Coralbells

      ‘Rose Granita’ shares the same traits as its cousin ‘Fall Festival’. The big difference between the two is the color. ‘Rose Granita’ is a darker variety that forms a mound of reddish-purple leaves highlighted with a pinkish-silver overlay. The two varieties look terrific planted together in small drifts along a garden path or teamed up in a planter.

      Name: Heuchera ‘Rose Granita’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 12–12 inches tall, 12–24 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Ball Hort

    • Buttered Rum Heucherella

      A sweet new introduction from the folks at Blooms of Bresshingham, 'Buttered Rum' heucherella has caramel-color maplelike leaves that will stand out in your shade garden. Small white flowers appear in the spring, and in the fall the leaves turn a lovely shade of rose-red. 'Buttered Rum' looks great planted by itself or mixed with heuchera and hosta in borders or containers.

      Name: Heucherella 'Buttered Rum'

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 7–10 inches tall, 12–15 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Terra Nova

    • Top Shade Garden Plants

      Discover beautiful and easy-to-grow plant varieties to add color and interest to shaded spots in your garden or landscape.

    • Alexander's Great Brunnera

      The largest brunnera we’ve ever seen, ‘Alexander’s Great’ has gigantic leaves that form an impressive mound of outstanding silver-and-green leaves. Plus, in the spring it develops spikes of lovely sky blue blooms that hover over the silver leaves. It prefers rich, slightly moist soil, so be sure to mulch it to keep it happy during times of drought. ‘Alexander’s Great’ also is deer-resistant.

      Name: Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial Shade

      Size: 12–15 inches tall, 24–28 inches wide

      Zones: 4–8

      Source: Terra Nova

    • Winter Thriller Irish Ruffles Hellebore

      Just when you think winter is never going to end, the big double flowers of ‘Irish Ruffles’ hellebore burst into bloom. The flowers of this striking new variety have bright, lime green petals delicately edged with red. These tough plants are drought- and deer-resistant. ‘Irish Ruffles’ also will tolerate a wide range of soil types.

      Name: Helleborus ‘Irish Ruffles’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 18–20 inches tall, 20–24 inches wide

      Zones: 4–8

      Source: Great Garden Plants

    • Blackberry Ice Coralbells

      Named for its luscious purple leaves with silver highlights, ‘Blackberry Ice’ coralbells will provide spring to fall color in your shady border. These hardworking plants are drought and deer resistant and develop spikes of yellow flowers in midsummer. Combine ‘Blackberry Ice’ with other shade loving perennials in containers or the landscape.

      Name: Heuchera ‘Blackberry Ice’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 8–12 inches tall, 12–16 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Proven Winners

    • 10 of 23

      Silver Heart Brunnera

      Hot, dry conditions won’t stop ‘Silver Heart’ brunnera from putting on a big show in your shade border. This striking plant has large silver leaves that are delicately etched with green veins. Unlike some older forms of brunnera, the leaves of ‘Silver Heart’ are thick and robust, so they won’t wilt when summer temperatures soar. Loose clusters of tiny blue flowers appear in the spring.

      Name: Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 6–12 inches tall, 20–24 inches wide

      Zones: 4–8

      Source: Skagit Gardens

    • 11 of 23

      Stephanie Cohen Foamflower

      Blooming from April to June, ‘Stephanie Cohen’ foamflower is a tough little perennial that won’t wilt during hot, dry, or humid conditions. The cheerful bright green leaves of ‘Stephanie Cohen’ will brighten your shady border, especially when the plant’s pink flower spikes come into bloom. Because it can handle dry conditions, ‘Stephanie Cohen’ works well in containers or on shady slopes.

      Name: Tiarella cordifolia ‘Stephanie Cohen’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 6–8 inches tall, 18–24 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Plants Nouveau

    • 12 of 23

      Windcliff Slaty Blue Hellebore

      The unusual slate-blue flowers of ‘Windcliff Slaty Blue’ hellebore make a gorgeous addition to any shade garden. ‘Windcliff Slaty Blue’ is a vigorous variety that can adapt to almost any shady situation. Like other hellebores, ‘Windcliff Slaty Blue’ is an early riser, blooming in late winter alongside narcissus and species tulips. It’s deer-resistant and evergreen.

      Name: Helleborus ‘Windcliff Slaty Blue’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 15–18 inches tall, 20–24 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Monrovia

    • 13 of 23

      Cracked Ice Heucherella

      Layer on the color in your shade border with ‘Cracked Ice’ heucherella. This hardy perennial has showy, finely cut, purple foliage with a silvery-pink overlay. In spring and summer it’s also crowned with small white blooms. ‘Cracked Ice’ is a mounding plant that looks terrific planted next to ‘Buttered Rum’ heucherella.

      Name: Heucheralla ‘Cracked Ice’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Part shade

      Size: 7–10 inches tall, 12–15 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Terra Nova

    • 14 of 23

      Shooting Star Hellebore

      Blooming from February to April, ‘Shooting Star’ hellebore develops masses of creamy-white flowers with pink reverses. As each bloom matures it becomes slightly pinker, so over time individual plants will carry a bouquet of different shades. ‘Shooting Star’ also has red stems and dark evergreen foliage. Like other hellebores, it’s deer- resistant and reliably hardy.

      Name: Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Shooting Star’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 18–22 inches tall, 20–24 inches wide

      Zones: 5–9

      Source: Skagit Gardens

    • 15 of 23

      Amore Pink Bleeding Heart

      Some plants just seem to be in almost constant bloom. That's the case with 'Amore Pink' bleeding heart. This little workhorse sends up stalks of cotton candy pink flowers from May until August. It also forms tight mounds of blue-green foliage that look good even when the plant takes a quick break from flowering. Use 'Amore Pink' along the edge of a shaded garden path or mix it with other spring bloomers in pots and planters.

      Name: Dicentra 'Amore Pink'

      Growing Conditions: Partial Shade, shade

      Size: 9–12 inches tall, 12–14 inches wide

      Zones: 5–9

      Source: Terra Nova

    • 16 of 23

      Lime Ruffles Heuchera

      When you're planning a shade garden, look for plants with a natural glow that stand out even on gloomy days. 'Lime Ruffles' heuchera is a good example of a plant that seems to radiate light. Its ruffled, bright lime green foliage is a standout, even from a distance. 'Lime Ruffles' is relatively heat-resistant and can even take full sun in cooler climates. The plant also develops white flowers in the fall.

      Name: Heuchera 'Lime Ruffles'

      Growing Conditions: Partial shade, Shade

      Size: 8–11 inches tall, 15–18 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Terra Nova

    • 17 of 23

      Curly Fries Hosta

      The narrow, wavy, chartreuse leaves of ‘Curly Fries’ hosta make a wonderful addition to any shade garden. In fact, the leaves are so bright they almost seem to glow. ‘Curly Fries’ forms a tight mound of foliage that works well along a garden path or in containers. In midsummer, ‘Curly Fries’ develops spikes of lavender blue flowers.

      Name: Hosta ‘Curly Fries’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 6–8 inches tall, 12–16 inches wide

      Zones: 3–9

      Source: Walters Gardens/Great Garden Plants

    • 18 of 23

      Cherry Tomato Hosta

      ‘Cherry Tomato’ hosta grows just 4 inches tall, but it can have a big impact in your garden if you plant it in a container, rock garden, or border edge. This hardworking ground hugger has narrow, creamy-yellow leaves with dark green margins. Hints of red also appear on the stems and the undersides of the leaves. ‘Cherry Tomato’ blooms in midsummer with purple flowers held aloft on red bloom stalks.

      Name: Hosta ‘Cherry Tomato’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 4–5 inches tall, 10–12 inches wide

      Zones: 3–9

      Source: Walters Gardens/Great Garden Plants

    • 19 of 23

      Island Breeze Hosta

      Hostas are the chameleons of the plant world, changing colors depending on where they live. For example, the leaves of 'Island Breeze' hosta are chartreuse with green margins when the plants are grown in deep shade, but move them to a slightly sunnier spot and the leaf centers become bright yellow. No matter where you plant it, 'Island Breeze' will add much needed color to your perennial border.

      Name: Hosta 'Island Breeze'

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 10–12 inches tall, 15–18 inches wide

      Zones: 3–9

      Source: Walters Gardens/Great Garden Plants

    • 20 of 23

      Gold Cascade Heucherella

      Looking for a colorful groundcover for your shade border? Try 'Gold Cascade' heucherella. This lovely trailing plant will eventually create a carpet of golden, scallop leaves throughout your garden. It also makes a great "spiller" for containers, where its bold foliage can flow over the pot's edge. In midspring, 'Gold Cascade' also develops short spikes of light coral flowers.

      Name: Heucherella 'Gold Cascade'

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 6–8 inches tall, 18–24 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Terra Nova

    • 21 of 23

      Dicentra Amore Rose

      Like its close cousin ‘Amore Pink’, ‘Amore Rose’ bleeding heart is a vigorous bloomer from spring until late summer. It’s an easy-care plant that produces a canopy of rose-pink flowers over a mass of lacy, blue-green foliage. ‘Amore Rose’ is especially eye-catching when it’s planted with spring-flowering narcissus and tulips.

      Name: Dicentra ‘Amore Rose’

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 9–12 inches tall, 12–14 inches wide

      Zones: 5–9

      Source: Terra Nova

    • 22 of 23

      Black Taffeta Coralbells

      Add a touch of elegance to your garden with 'Black Taffeta' coralbells. This fashionable new shade dweller has silky, ruffled black foliage that won't fade over the summer. It also has pretty pink flowers in the spring. 'Black Taffeta' is a vigorous variety that quickly forms a bold mound of color.

      Name: Heuchera 'Black Taffeta'

      Growing Conditions: Shade, Partial shade

      Size: 10–12 inches tall, 18–21 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Source: Terra Nova

    • 23 of 23
      Next Slideshow Power Perennials: Plants That Thrive No Matter What

      Power Perennials: Plants That Thrive No Matter What

      Add some flower power to your garden this year with any of these tough-as-nails perennial bloomers.
      Begin Slideshow »

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