Skip to Content

7 Zone 5 Perennials For Shade [Or Partial Shade]

Perennials are an excellent choice for any yard, as they come back year after year. This way, you're not wasting money on buying new plants yearly. However, you may feel limited in your choices of perennials because you live in planting Zone 5 and most of your yard is fully or partially shaded. Don't worry, we have done the research and have found 7 Zone 5 perennials for shade or partial shade.

Here is a list of 7 perennials perfect for shade or partial shade in planting Zone 5:

  1. Bleeding heart
  2. Astilbe
  3. Coral bells
  4. Boston ivy
  5. Barrenwort
  6. Hosta
  7. Foxglove

The perennials on this list offer a wide range of sizes, colors, and textures. Consider several factors before choosing any perennials on this list. Assess your soil type, soil drainage, moisture, and location before planting your perennial. Keep reading to learn more about each of these Zone 5 shade or partial shade perennials and how to maintain and properly care for each. 

Full Perennial flowers in the garden, 7 Zone 5 Perennials For Shade [Or Partial Shade]

Plant Hardiness Zone 5

You might be wondering why there are specific plants recommended for each planting zone. If you're unsure of the planting zone in which you reside, click here.

Not all planting zones are created equal. The climate conditions of each zone dictate which type of plants should be grown in that location. If perennials are not planted in the correct zone, they can die off each year and will need to be replanted the next year. 

Planting Zone 5 is a wide band of land in the central and upper parts of the United States. This zone is one of the colder zones in the country, which means these plants must be cold hardy to -10 or -20 degrees Fahrenheit if you want them to come back each year. 

The plants on the following list will thrive in Zone 5, even in shade or partial shade. Surely, one of the plants on this list will meet your landscaping needs. Now let's dig deeper into each type of plant!

7 Zone 5 Perennials For Shade Or Partial Shade

All of the perennials on our list below will flourish in shade or partial shade in Zone 5. Most are low-maintenance and easy to care for if planted in proper conditions. Each will add vibrancy and interest to any location in which they are planted. 

1. Bleeding Heart

Dicentra - Bleeding Heart Flowers

As its name suggests, the bleeding heart is adorned with heart-shaped blooms in early spring. The arching stems anchor these gorgeous blossoms in colors such as pink, white, or a combination of the two. 

This plant should be watered regularly and the soil should remain moist. We recommend working compost or mulch into the area in which these beauties are planted.

Don't worry, these plants will die back in the heat of the summer. But don't remove the foliage before it turns yellow or brown, as it is storing up nutrients preparing for next year's growth. 

A bleeding heart can grow up to three feet tall and three feet wide. If you're looking for something colorful and easy, try planting the bleeding heart in your shady area. 

Click here to find this bleeding heart on Amazon.

2. Astilbe

Japanese astilbe flowering with red panicled inflorescences in sunny summer garden

Many varieties of astilbe are available and come in colors from dark purple to white to pink. Most astilbe can be recognized by its tall, fluffy blossoms that tower above its fern-like leaves. These flowers grow beautifully in the shade but do even better when they can get an hour or two of sun each day. 

Make sure your astilbe plant is watered regularly and doesn't get dried out. Its leaves can become dried out and get leaf scorch. Astilbe plants perform best in loamy, well-drained soil. Don't plant these during hot times of the year but rather plant them during milder times of the year. 

The feathery blooms can be cut back each spring or can be left alone throughout the winter. These long-lasting blooms will be a delicate delight in your garden. 

Check out this astilbe plant on Amazon.

3. Coral Bells

Heuchera with rain drops

This stunning plant is most known for its gorgeous foliage. Choosing the color of your coral bells will be the most difficult part. Colors such as red, orange, purple, pink, and copper are all available.

Its leaves can also be ruffled or variegated. Clusters of tiny white flowers will bloom through summer on tall white stems two to three times as tall as the leaves below. 

Make sure to keep them watered, but not too moist. These plants can suffer from root rot if left too wet. Cut the flowers back in the fall and keep the plants well mulched so their roots will be protected in colder months. They can grow eight to 18 inches tall and one to two feet wide. 

4. Boston Ivy

Dark red Boston Ivy leaves over white wall

Are you looking for a climbing vine that will prosper in a shady area? Boston ivy fits the bill! This fast-growing vine will climb walls, trellises, gutters, fences, or anything you choose.

It grows quickly and can add three to 10 feet per year. This vine will add beautiful greenery to your landscape in the summer months but will also turn a stunning red color in the fall. 

Boston ivy tolerates most types of soil and needs an average amount of water. Once established, it is fairly drought tolerant. Prune any growth that is out of place or wandering into unwanted territory. 

One word of caution—Boston ivy can overtake your walls, gutters, and even roof if left unsupervised. Once it gets a hold of your wall, it can be extremely difficult to remove and may damage your wall.

It's best to grow Boston ivy on trellises, gazebos, or similar structures unless you want them on your wall permanently. 

5. Barrenwort

Raindrops on the heart shaped leaves of Red Barrenwort

These magical plants will grow in even the deepest of shade and come in striking colors like orange, yellow, pink, red, or white, with purple or greenish-blue leaves. The fall foliage is equally as beautiful, edged in maroon or gold. 

Barrenwort plants grow best in acidic soil and are drought tolerant once established. These wonders will form a dense mat of foliage and will make an enchanting groundcover in any shady areas. Plant them under trees, bushes, or other tall plants to add some whimsy to your landscape. 

Barrenwort will only grow six to 12 inches tall but can spread as much as one to three feet. This low-maintenance groundcover perennial is tough and hardy yet delicate in appearance. 

6. Hosta

Beautiful garden, lawn with green grass

The wonderful thing about hostas is they come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Hostas are a favorite among gardeners because of their beauty and ease of care.

Their lush foliage comes in numerous shades of cream and green and can be striped or patterned in varying hues of green. Over 2,500 types of hostas are available today. You could fill your entire yard with different kinds of hostas!

Hosta color will generally depend upon how much sunlight it receives. Lighter-colored and variegated hostas may need more sunlight than hostas in deeper shades of green. Plant them in rich soil with good drainage. Drainage is one of the most important things when caring for and establishing new hostas. 

Some hosta plants can grow as wide as four feet. Make sure you space them accordingly when planting. This tropical-looking plant is rugged and tough once established and will be a welcome addition to your Zone 5 shady area. 

Find these varieties of hostas on Amazon.

7. Foxglove

Fresh blooming digitalis

Several types of low-lying plants have been discussed, but if you're wanting to add height and a plant with a stately presence, consider planting foxglove in your shade garden.

Foxglove stems can reach up to six feet in height. These tubular-shaped clusters of blossoms can be yellow, purple, pink, or white and often have little speckles. 

In its first year, the foxglove will grow a small clump of foliage, with its blooms coming in its second year. One fabulous feature of the foxglove is its ability to reseed. If the blooms are not removed, they will drop seeds that will bloom the following year. 

Foxglove care is fairly easy. Keep them in soil that is well drained and make sure they don't get too soggy or too dry. Thin out the seedlings the following year for them to have the proper amount of growing room. Children and pets should be kept away from foxglove, as they can be toxic if consumed. 

In Closing

Full Perennial flowers in the garden

Use the shade to your advantage and plant one of these fabulous Zone 5 perennials in your yard. Whether you're looking for lovely blossoms, striking foliage, or attractive groundcover, these plants will do the trick. Any of these cold-hardy Zone 5 perennials will thrive in shade or partial shade. 

Hopefully, you will give one of these shade-loving Zone 5 perennials a try. Whether you choose something like the classic hosta or something more unique like the barrenwort, these champion perennials will not disappoint!

If you live in Zone 5 and are looking for more landscape inspiration, click on the following links:

9 Flowering Trees For Zone 5

10 Zone 5 Perennials That Like Full Sun