Planting a shade garden with color is one of the harder things to do in a garden, especially for those seeking out orange flowers. Most orange blooms occur on sun-loving plants, but for those who love the color, it is possible to find a few orange flowers to offer bright pops of color throughout your shade garden. Gardeners loving orange can also consider using orange-colored foliage plants to introduce color into the shady areas of their gardens.
Impatiens walleriana (Balsaminaceae) or the common impatiens, offer the longest-blooming orange flowers for the shade garden. Their brilliant colors, ranging from salmon to pumpkin orange, give continuous single or double blooms beginning with the spring planting until the first frost of the fall. Although impatiens are considered a tender perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 10 to 11, impatiens varieties such as “Super Elfin,” “Athena” and “Rockapulco” are rarely planted as anything other than an annual. While not a bloom, the oranges offered in the colorful leaves of the coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) varieties “Rustic Orange” and “Orange King” are just as beautiful as blooms for bright pops of color in the shade. Most often treated as an annual, the coleus is actually a tender perennial in USDA zones 10 to 11 that offers plenty of easy color for shade gardens during spring and summer and makes a great houseplant for those who like to overwinter their favorite colors and patterns.
Orange shade-loving perennials are hard to find but those living in USDA zones 4 through 8 are lucky enough to have Epimedium x warleyense (Berberidaceae) or bishop’s hat to provide several weeks of coppery orange-red and yellow small blooms in early spring. This hardy low-growing perennial makes a great ground cover while tolerating drought, deer and rabbits. Coral bells or Heuchera (Heuchera), hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, got its name from the clusters of terracotta orange flowers that grace the plants in the spring. While the small orange flowers are pretty, they are short-lived and the real value of orange in the Heuchera comes from the orange foliage offered by varieties such as “Marmalade,” “Georgia Peach,” “Sweet Tea” and “Peache Flambe.”
Shrubs and Vines
Native to the Western U.S., the orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa), is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9 and is grown as a perennial vine by gardeners across the country. Valued for its ability to attract hummingbirds and the sweet scent of its orange blooms, the plant will thrive in either full sun or shade. One issue with orange honeysuckle is its ability to climb and grow on anything, making it difficult to keep it in its intended location. A great orange-flowering shrub for the shade garden is the azalea (Rhododendron). The azalea is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9 and comes in multiple shades of orange on both deciduous and evergreen varieties, such as “Mandarin Lights,” “Flame Creeper,” “Apricot Nectar” and “Jingle Bells.” They love acidic soil and preform best as under plantings for trees, making them perfect for the shade garden.
For brilliant spring color, plant tulip (Tulipa) bulbs into your shade gardens. The graceful blooms offer several weeks of varying shades of orange in a variety of bloom shape, sizes and heights. Extend the blooming period by planting a mixture of early- and late-blooming varieties. Depending on your location, tulips are perennials, hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8, but are generally treated as annuals because of a problem called tulip decline, which causes most varieties to get weak and stop blooming in the years following the first planting. Another elegant orange-flowering bulb is the clivia (Amaryllidaceae) or bush lily. The clivia grows only in full shade as an under-story planting and is a perennial in USDA zones 9 to 10. In other locations, the plant makes a beautiful houseplant, wintering over easily indoors before going back outside to the shade garden during the warm season.
- Missouri Botanical Gardens: Tulipa (Group)
- Missouri Botanical Gardens: Heuchera Americana
- Darwin Plants: Herchera
- American Rhododendron Society: Botanical Classification
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Epimedium x Warleyense
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Impatiens Walleriana
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Solenostemon Scutellarioides
- Proven Winners: Rustic Orange
- White Flower Farm: Growing Guide Clivia Miniata
- National Geographic: Orange Honeysuckle
- Photo Credit Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images