5 Best Evergreen Perennials for Shade

Peter Chambers

Oct 21, 2022

lenten rose blooms one of the best evergreen perennials for shade

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Even the most carefully curated landscapes can be ruined by the onset of winter. Most plants die away, leaving your curb appeal considerably lacking. Boost your mood and your home’s appeal by adding hardy plants that add visual interest even in the cold winter months.

Evergreen perennials are a particular type of plant that lasts more than one growing season and keeps some form of foliage year round. Rather than die above ground, these varieties will add beauty to your home in every season. 

Many prefer partial or direct sunlight to thrive, but it’s often the shady patches of your landscape that look the most dreary in the colder months. Sprinkle in a few of these evergreen perennials for shade, and you’ll liven up your whole exterior.   

1. Lenten Rose (Hellebore) 

Its name is quite deceiving — the lenten rose isn’t a rose at all. Rather, it belongs to the buttercup family. It flowers in late winter around the Christian season of Lent, giving this plant the rest of its title. 

The blooms range in colors from white to shades of light pink and purple and grow to a few inches. The foliage ranges in the depth of color and texture based on the variety. One thing to bear in mind is that while these plants are beautiful and easy to care for, they’re also toxic to humans and pets. 

2. Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Coral bells come in hundreds of varieties spanning a wide range of colors. You’ll find lime and dark green, plum, burgundy, silver, gold and brown. Flowers for these plants generally bloom in spring and summer. Their nectar is very appealing to hummingbirds, so grow these where you can see them from inside or place a cute bench nearby. 

With this many varieties, not all prefer the same growing conditions, but most will do well in partial shade to complete shade. Full sun can bleach the amazing colors from the evergreen foliage. 

3. Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

Lungwort is one of the best evergreen perennials for shade — it can survive where most plants wouldn’t. The leaves are dark green speckled with interesting white spots, making the whole plant look as though someone splashed it with bleach. You’ll also notice a find fuzzy covering over the leaves. 

The flowers on the lungwort plant are remarkable. They bloom in early spring and come in white, pink and blue. Multiple colors may appear on the same plant, and each bloom can change tones as it ages. 

4. European Ginger (Asarum europaeum)

This verdant ground cover is a cousin of the Canadian wild ginger — so named because it was used as a ginger substitute at one point in history. European ginger is about as easy as it comes. It prefers shade and doesn’t require much care. It’s also resistant to most pests, including deer, but draws butterflies.  

European ginger has lovely deep green leaves all year. It grows to around 6 inches with its heart-shaped, glossy leaves spanning up to 3 inches. In the late spring and early summer, you may find small bell-shaped blooms. However, they’re difficult to spot under the large, thick leaves. 

5. Foamflower (Tiarella)

Foamflower is a wildflower with showy white and pink-tinged blooms. It does well in full shade, but its colors get brighter with a few hours of dappled sunlight. The flowers bloom in late spring and early summer on stems reaching near a foot — though the base of the plant remains much shorter. 

As if this gem isn’t beautiful enough in the heat, you’re in for a surprise when the weather turns cool. The leaves turn stunning fall shades of bronze and burgundy.  

Consider Your Plant Hardiness Zone

You know you want to add evergreen perennials for shade to your landscaping design, but you have one last consideration to bear in mind. What plant hardiness zone do you live in?  Plants aren’t designed to thrive in every climate. 

Your local nursery should only carry suitable plants for your area. However, if you still are uncertain, talk to one of the specialists and ask for their recommendations. You need plants that fit your wants and your landscape’s needs. 

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