• Ane from Boomerang

5 Sun and Shade Perennials to Try in Your Garden

Updated: Jul 14

Spring is such a blissful time of year. It’s filled with new energy and bright colours, and sounds of animals we haven’t heard in at least 6 months. OK, getting a little mushy, but spring really is beautiful, and you have a chance to add to that beauty by planting perennials in your garden.


Perennials vs. annuals and biennials


You can probably make an assumption on what each of these means, but it’s good to have a clear perspective of what we’re talking about. Different plants have different life spans. Annuals have a lifespan of about a year, and biennials have a two-year lifespan. Perennials have a life cycle of longer than two years.


The more important question is, why is this important. Well, when you’re deciding on what plants to include in your garden, you’ll want to have a good mix. Annuals mean you’ll need to be replacing those plants every year, which will obviously cost money but also change the look and feel of your garden (should you decide to plant different plants). Planting perennials is a longer-term commitment, so you’ll want to be a bit more careful in which perennial plants you choose.


Conditions for sun plants vs. shade plants


This has always been strange to me. How can it be possible for a plant, something that’s literally from nature, to not like the sun? But it’s a thing, and when you’re planting your garden this spring, you need to keep in mind which of your plants are sun plants vs. which are better off in the shade. Each of them needs a different level of care and, yes, sunlight.


Sun plants need about 6-8 hours of direct sunlight to be at their best. Full-shade plants don’t need any direct sunlight at all, and part-shade plants can withstand about three hours of sunlight. These are all general timelines. If you look at the plant label, it should give you all the directions you need.


How to choose plants for your garden


The simple answer is you choose whatever plants you like. But when you’re actually trying to make your garden sing, then you have to be a bit more selective. Try these tips:


  • Measure your garden — you need to know how much space you have to work with so you give your plants enough room to grow.

  • What kind of soil do you have (or plan on using) — different plants do better in certain types of soil, so this is important.

  • What direction does your garden face? — The direction of your garden impacts how much sun it gets in a given day. South-facing gardens get the most sun, so you’ll have to take that into consideration.



Plant these 5 perennials this spring


There’s still time. You can still add some perennials to your garden this spring to give it the life it needs. Think of perennials as a long term investment. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get to see your investment pay off. Remember, it’s important to understand aspects of your garden like how big it is and which direction it faces before you get your hands dirty.


5 Sun perennials


  1. Blanket Flower

  2. Salvia

  3. Purple Coneflower

  4. Coreopsis

  5. Delphinium


5 Shade perennials


  1. Toad Lily

  2. Sweet Kate Spiderwort

  3. Lenten Rose

  4. Blue Bird Columbine

  5. Silver Bouquet Pulmonaria


Join Boomerang’s nature-inspired workshops


We’re holding virtual nature-inspired workshops with experienced hosts who will help get your garden looking beautiful. Join our weekly discussion group or our Memory-Friendly Garden Club. More gardening workshops are on the way.


This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.


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