Best 3 Annuals for Shade

By Chris Edmunds

Shady corner or somewhere with dappled light? These annuals are tailor-made for those shady spots.
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When you walk into one of our stores, it can be a little overwhelming to try to choose between all of the fantastic shades, shapes, and styles of blooms that are laid out next to each other. While we always say to follow the flowers that you fall in love with, it’s also important to choose plants that fit your garden. You’ll be setting yourself up for success by selecting plants that fit the sun and soil conditions in the space you’ve reserved for them. Choosing plants according to what will be a good fit in your garden is the best way to narrow down all the colorful choices.

While many annuals love to soak up the sun, there are inevitably some parts of our yards and patios that are more sheltered. If you’ve got a shady corner or somewhere with dappled light through a tree canopy, picking plants that are ideal for shady conditions is the right way to go. There are lots of annuals to choose from that are tailor-made for these shady spots, and their beautiful blossoms will have your garden looking spectacular this year.

Do Begonias Do Well in the Shade?

Kaw-begonia1.pngThese popular flowers are at the top of many people’s lists to plant this year, and we’re happy to tell you that they’ll thrive in that shady spot in your garden. We love that begonias take to our sheltered garden corners and make them stand out, instead of fading into the background.

Depending on the type of begonia, some can handle more sun than others, but they all thrive better in shade. Wax (fibrous) begonias, especially the dark-leafed varieties, and ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias can handle the most sunlight. Tuberous, Elatior or Reiger begonias do not like direct sunlight and need to be in a nice shady spot, especially during the warmer part of the day (from 11 am to 6 pm).

Kaw-begonia2.pngAlthough they love the shade, begonias are still showstoppers. They are bright and full of color, with many shades and varieties to choose from. One popular type for shady spots is the Whopper Begonia - they have colossal presence as one of the largest begonias and offer dazzling shades of rose, red, and white. Their flowers are undeniably gorgeous, but you’ll love how their glossy leaves in shades of green, bronze, or red complement their blooms to make an overall statement that simply dazzling.

Try using large planters overflowing with Whopper Begonias scattered in the shady sections of your yard for a full-landscape style statement this summer. They also look amazing as a hanging container plant, but you’ll want to make sure their basket hooks are well-secured to support their impressive size!

Begonia Care: These giant plants are relatively low-maintenance. A monthly dose of fertilizer is recommended to fuel your plant to its full potential. Begonias such as ‘Dragon Wing’ and the ‘Whoppers’ are super-easy and fantastic performers. They don’t need any dead-heading, are fairly drought tolerant, so you can go a little longer between watering compared to most annuals, and they bloom their fool heads off! You’ll have a beautiful display of color gracing your backyard and patio from late spring all the way through fall.

Not Shy About Color - Torenia

Kaw-torenia.pngAlso known as the ‘Wishbone Flower’, torenia has earned a reputation for being stunningly beautiful, boasting bright, multi-colored blooms in the shade. Plus, they’re versatile enough for full sun! This plant is a great choice for containers and hanging planters, as well as borders in the garden where they fill in low-lying space with an impact. Some have a dense mounded habit, others have a vigorous spreading and trailing habit, and their blooms look a little like snapdragons but come in a dazzling array of colors to choose from. It can also be a great solution for those difficult exposures that don’t get many hours of sun, but when they do, it’s hot afternoon sun. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Catalina Midnight Blue: A hypnotizing shade of indigo, complemented by lighter lavender-blue accents and gold splashed in the throat. Mounded habit.

  • Summer Wave Large Violet: Similar color to ‘Catalina Midnight Blue’ but with a large spreading and trailing habit.

  • Catalina Gilded Grape: Sunny yellow petals surround a rich purple center. Spreading and trailing habit.

  • Kauai Lemon Drop: Pure, bright white flowers and a bright yellow center. Mounded habit.

  • Kauai Rose: Hot pink flowers with clean white centers splashed with a bright yellow spot in the throat. Mounded habit.

Caring for Torenia: There isn’t anything tricky about growing torenia. Water regularly and feed with KVG GOOD STUFF water-soluble plant food every few weeks to give them the fuel they need to thrive. These plants are very low-maintenance all summer, with no need for deadheading. Torenia is very pest resistant - but very attractive to your local hummingbirds! These beautiful flowers are impressive to behold, but nobody else needs to know how easy they are to maintain as a star of your landscape. With beautiful backyard company this stylish, you’ll want to spend all your time lounging outside.

Euphorbia White Manaus (sometimes known as ‘Diamond Frost’)

Kaw-euphorbia.pngEuphorbia plays the role of baby’s breath in a rose bouquet to any other blooming plant you put with it. It’s no secret that we at Kaw Valley are big fans of ‘White Manaus’. These blooms from Brazil are one of our favorites because they are winners across the board. They can thrive in the sun or the shade, they are resilient even in the tough, dry heat waves of Kansas, they don’t require any deadheading and need very little maintenance. They’re even deer and rabbit resistant!

The slender, green leaves and tufts of petite white flowers look like clouds in our gardens, billowing out of containers and flower beds. We love their lacy and delicate look on their own, but they also make great complementary partners with our favorite bold-colored blooms. If you aren’t sure what to plant or just want something gorgeous and hardy, these are the perfect option for your containers or landscaping.

‘White Manaus’ Planting and Care: Once you bring it home, the options are endless, as it tolerates most light and soil conditions. Try this it under a shady tree, as a pretty border. She’ll shine in a container, and you’ll be happy to watch it bloom in all weather conditions. Water moderately and give it an occasional boost of fertilizer to keep it growing well. ‘White Manaus’ euphorbia is a low maintenance choice that is perfect for a low-maintenance garden with it’s tough-as-nails performance and adaptability to blazing hot sun or shade. Be aware that a few people are sensitive to the milky sap produced when stems are broken, possibly causing some skin irritation.


Good things come in threes, and we couldn’t be more excited about these selections for the shady parts of your yard. These flowers don’t skimp on the show they provide despite their more modest lighting needs, so you can get just as excited about color and style for the shaded parts of your home as you do about the full-sun annuals. With such beautiful flowers around you, you might even find yourself looking for excuses to spend more time out in your yard. Pick some up at our fabulous garden center in Tyler Road Wichita!



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