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Gulf Coast Gardening: Favorite Perennials for Shade

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

These perennials add color and texture to shady garden beds in Florida and other areas of the Gulf Coast. See what works.

 Persian Shield and Blazin’ Rose Iresine

By Keri Byrum

Perennials are a great way to add flowers or colorful foliage to your yard or garden with less maintenance than annuals. Perennials come back each year and do not get woody, like shrubs, so they tend to stay smaller in the Gulf Coast. For my shady yard these are the perennials that perform well each year without replanting:

Stromanthe stands out in the shade

Stromanthe ‘Tricolor’ (Stromanthe sanguinea), shown here, is a small perennial that stays less than 2 feet tall. Variegated green-and-white leaves stand out in the shade. Yet the bottoms of the leaves are a bright magenta, so any light makes the whole leaf appear a glowing pink. Once established, this plant is very drought hardy.


Foxtail fern adds unusual texture

Foxtail Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii') is my go-to for adding texture to the garden in sun or shade. Bright-green leaves appear dense and plumelike. With time foxtail fern forms full clumps of soft, arching leaves. This evergreen perennial performs all year, and needs very little care to look great.


Purple Persian Shield doesn’t need flowers to grab attention

Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) is always the first plant visitors to my yard ask about. The purple leaves outshine even the most colorful flowers! The newest leaves appear bright purple, then fade to iridescent silver over time. For the most color, plant Persian Shield in a fairly shaded location.


Blazin’ Rose Iresine for Gulf Coast gardens

Blazin' Rose Iresine looks so exotic, it’s hard to believe it’s a perennial. Blazin’ Rose has maroon leaves with magenta veins and reaches a mature height of 3 feet. This plant does well in sun and shade, and needs regular water to keep the beautiful color. To keep iresine full and bushy, regularly pinch back the tips of branches.

Eye-catching foliage makes you glad these plants come back each year. These garden perennials are just a few favorites that can make even the most simple garden look inspired.