Need some help planning your Shade Garden? These full shade perennials for the Canadian Prairies are your place to start!
The qualities that make a great perennial on the Canadian Prairies is that it needs to be extremely hardy. Our climate is harsh. We experience deep colds and then have a flash Chinook where the temps rise 20+ degrees celsius and can rise above the freezing mark.
Once the temps rise above freezing all our insulating snow cover can melt leaving all our tender perennials exposed to the elements.
But the real hard part is that after the Chinook Winds blow in the temps can drop drastically back to -20 celsius or colder. Often dropping to -35C and staying there for weeks on end.
So a great perennial, shrub or tree for our climate is one that has passed the tests of our winters. You might also be interested in some amazing full sun perennials as well.
18 Gorgeous Full Shade Perennials for the Canadian Prairies
Astilbe is a mid to late blooming airy flower. It gets between 24-50 cm tall and is best mixed into a border. It’s airy texture will add dimension to any mixed perennial border.
Ajuga repens – Carpet Bugleweed
Ajuga is a great rock garden plant as it forms a nice low mat that can spread over rocks or near pathways.
Divide frequently to prevent overcrowding.
You will remember this flower from our Full Sun Perennial list. It is also a great full shade perennial. Keep in mind that flower production will be reduced in full shade.
This is easily one of the most adaptable perennials for your garden. After blooming it gives great texture and interest in the perennial border.
Lamium maculatum – Spotted Deadnettle
This is easily one of my favourite ground covers for full shade. It is a fast growing ground cover that gives great visual interest. Its variegated leaf and purple flower are sure to please.
Ligularia dentata – Elephant Ears
Do you want a show stopper? Then Ligularia is the plant for you. It’s very large green/burgandy leaves are impressive. It will grow on average 3-4 ft tall, with some varieties as tall as 6-7ft!
In late July and August it will shoot up spikes of yellow flowers.
Polygonatum mulitflorum – Solomon’s Seal
Solomon’s Seal is a taller plant, at about 2.5 ft. It has arching stems that bear white flowers on the length of them.
This plant is great for creating a natural wild garden look and can even be used as a cut flower.
Anemone sylvestris – Snowdrop Anemone
While you will see this flower more often in full sun perennial borders, it has it’s place in the shade garden as well. They do prefer to have moist soil.
If a wild and spreading border is your preference these will be sure to make you happy. If a more formal, tended space is to your liking some weeding will be required. They are easy to weed out if desired.
Gentian spp. – Gentian
If a True Blue Garden is on your radar, then this is the plant for you. While many blues lean towards purple, this flower will give you the blue that you want.
It is has shiny leaves and will bloom in July on stems 12-15 inches tall.
Trollius – Globe Flower
When creating a woodland border this is the flower for you. It’s large buttercup like blooms will impress all gardeners. They are an early bloomer showing up in June.
While many flowers in our Canadian Prairies wait to bloom until July and August this flower helps us recover with colour after a long winter season.
Aegopodium podograria – Snow on the Mountain or Goutweed
I nervously add Goutweed into this list. This is an extremely aggressive plant. Should you choose to plant it in your garden please be warned! Plant only in contained areas like concrete edged beds, between concrete sidewalks and houses.
Plant only in areas that you are ok with it taking over. Think quack grass of the perennial border. Despite its aggressive nature it is a great filler that offers variegated texture to your border.
Hosta are probably the most well know full shade perennial for the Canadian Prairies. They are typically grown for the amazing foliage, but their delicate blooms are beautiful as well.
There are hundreds of varieties out there from small mounding to large blue/green leaves that will fill in large spaces.
Convallaria majalis – Lily of the Valley
Lily-of-theValley is another great ground cover. As with a lot of ground covers it can lean towards aggressivness.
All parts of this plant are considered poisonous so please watch small children in your garden!
Filipendula spp. – Meadowsweet
Another tall back of the border perennial is Meadowsweet. It resembles the shrub spirea and is 3-6 ft tall. They also are a great replacement for Astilbe as they are hardier.
Lysimachia nummularia – Creeping Jenny
Creeping Jenny is just like the name says, creeping. Some people claim it can become invasive, so keep a close watch on it just to make sure.
Matteuccia struthiopteris pensylvanica – Ostrich Fern
Ferns are the back bone to any full shade perennial border. They offer height, texture and colour.
They are also the largest of the ferns in North America. Place these on the north side of your home and be amazed at how they will flourish!
Primula cortusoides – Primula
Primula is a dainty perennial that should be added to every rock garden. It is among the first early spring blooming perennials.
There are many different colours and look great when planted in mass plantings, especially near ponds.
Dodecatheon media – Shooting Star
This purple blooming spring flower is another small flower for the front of the border. It tops out at 12-15 inches tall.
Mertensia virginica – Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells are a beautiful spring blooming perennial for the middle of the border growing about 2 ft tall.
They are great for a natural or wild type garden border.
Dicentra sp. – Bleeding Heart
While Bleeding Hearts are a partial shade perennial I had to include them in this list. Their flowing texture is needed in every garden.
Here are a few partial shade bloomers that are also a favourite in the shade garden.
- Bergenia spp.
- Geranium spp – Cranesbill
- Centaurea montana – Perennial Cornflower
- Aruncus dioicus – Goat’s Beard
- Vinca herbacea – Herbaceaous Periwinkle
- Iris germanica
- Iris siberica
- Polemonium caeruleum – jacob’s Ladder
- Eupatorium purpurea – Joe Pye Weed
- Alchemilla moliis – Lady’s Mantle
- Stachy grandiflora – Lamb’s Ears
- Cimicifuga racemosa – Black Snakeroot
- Platycodon grandiflorum – Balloon Flower