10 Best Blue Plants For Containers In The Shade

Container gardening in the shade can be a bit tricky. This list of blue plants for containers in the shade will have the pots on your patio, walkway or porch looking beautiful all summer long.

10 Best Blue Plants for Containers in the Shade
10 Best Blue Plants for Containers in the Shade

Last week, I talked about how to plant beautiful containers using thrillers, fillers and spillers. This week I’d like to talk about the plants that go in those containers–specifically blue plants for containers in the shade.

Why blue? First, because I love the look of a monochromatic blue and purple color scheme.

And second, because the most asked question about my garden is “What are those blue flowers?”.

Oh, and did I mention I love blue plants?

The new deck
The new deck

Last summer, I built a new deck and surrounded it with mostly blue and purple perennials.

Now, I want the pots and containers around and on the deck to continue the monochromatic blue and purple color scheme.

The space has a lot of opportunities for containers, which are all in the shade (thanks to the large tree over the deck):

  • wrought iron hay rack below a window (so that the flowers blooming there are seen both inside and outside of the house),
  • hexagonal holes in the lattice fence specifically for hanging wire baskets
  • a waterfall fountain that looks good with plants around it
  • random large planters.
The window planer and water fountain
The window planer and water fountain

All of these planters will make the deck feel more homogeneous with the landscape and contribute to the relaxing ambiance I am going for. I use mostly annuals in these locations because they bloom consistently all summer and require little care except regular watering and fertilizer application.

Due to the sunlight restrictions I am confined to choosing annuals that will tolerate mostly shade.  This is a challenge because there are not many true blue plants in nature and those that tolerate shade are even rarer.

Keep reading to find out my list of the best blue plants for containers in the shade.

Streptocarpella (streptocarpus saxorum)

10 Best Blue Plants For Containers In The Shade

Container Role: Spiller

Amount of Shade: Full Shade

Streptocarpella* is one of my absolute favorite blue flowering plants for full shade.

It has nodding little bell shaped blooms that are delicate and mystical.  They are held above dark green violet-like foliage by short stems.

Streptocarpella grows 6-10″ and because it spills over the edges of pots, it is perfect for hanging baskets.  Each 12″ basket needs 3-4 plants to make a nice bushy showing.

10 Best Blue Plants For Containers In The Shade

I like to repeat the streptocarpella baskets in the fence holes (yes, that’s one of them peeping out from under the climbing hydrangea).

Then I hang one by the nearby garage door and another from the non-fruiting crab-apple tree that overhangs the deck. Sometimes I even put one on the arbor leading to the back garden. Can you tell I love these plants?

The leaves will burn in the direct afternoon sun, but they do well in shade and part-shade.  They do not need deadheading and are easy to propagate from cuttings rooted in water.

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10 Best Blue Plants For Containers In The Shade

Browallia

Browallia (C) with Impatiens (A), Begonia (B) and Pentas (D), via bhg.com

Browallia (C) with Impatiens (A), Begonia (B) and Pentas (D), via bhg.com

Container Role: Filler or Spiller

Amount of Shade: Part to Full Shade

Browallia* is a profuse bloomer with blue blossoms on a mounded 10″ plant. It is a reliable filler for your shade container.

It does not need deadheading.

Blue browallia with pink dianthus and silver dusty miller
Blue browallia with pink dianthus and silver dusty miller

Use slow release fertilizer when potting up and water regularly.

Caladium, Big Leaf Coleus and Perilla

Coleus in a blue container
Coleus in a blue container

Container Role: Filler

Amount of Shade: Full Shade

Caladiums, Big Leaf Coleus and Perilla come in a myriad of brightly colored leaves, many of which are more purple than blue.

But I like to include them in my pots because they absolutely thrive in the shade.

Blue Coleus seeds*

Then I saw these blue ones that look absolutely stunning! I have only been able to find them in seeds (HERE*), so we’ll see how they turn out!

Since they do so well in full shade, these plants are a perfect thriller to combine with Browallia and Streptocarpella.

Update: After a couple of tries, I have not been able to get these blue coleus seeds to grow. If any of you have tried them and got them to grow successully, I would love to hear about it!

Salvia

Salvia, dianthus and browallia
Salvia, dianthus and browallia

Container Role: Thriller

Amount of Shade: Part Shade

There are many different varieties of blue salvias that you can grow in containers, but ‘Victoria Blue‘* is my favorite. It has deep royal blue flowers along 8″ spikes that really attracts attention, both in the border and in containers.

Plant it in the center of a container that will be situated in sun or part-sun and you will be impressed with this true blue thriller.

The spikes appear above lovely gray-green foliage on a 24″ plant.  It is a tough annual and will bloom from May until frost.

10 Best Blue Plants For Containers In The Shade

Salvia with Petunias and Creeping Jenny via dbgrosystems.com ** Pinning this image will link to the original source

This beautiful planter from dbgrosystems.com combines Salvia with petunias and creeping jenny. They show a lot of different planter combinations on their website, so be sure to check them out if you’re looking for some more inspiration.

Superbena® Verbena

Superbena Royale Chambray (Verbena)*

Container Role: Filler or Spiller

Amount of Shade: Part Shade

Superbena Verbenas are versatile cultivars that form a mounded shape and will drape over the edge of containers so they can be used as a filler or a spiller.  

For the deepest blue color, try Superbena Royale Chambray*.

Superbena Royale Chambray (Verbena)

Like salvia, it needs part-sun.  

It does not need deadheading but will grow more flowering branches if sheared lightly with sharp scissors when planting. 

An alternative for a verbena spiller is ‘twister purple’.

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10 Best Blue Plants For Containers In The Shade

Verbena bonariensis

Meteor Shower (Verbena)

Container Role: Thriller

Amount of Shade: Part Shade

Another type of verbena to try is Verbena bonariensis. It is a tall plant that has an upright habit and grows to 20-30″, which makes it ideal for using as a thriller in a part-sun container.

Meteor Shower (Verbena)

Meteor Shower‘ is my favorite color of this Verbena variety. Its typical verbena tufted blooms are a violet/lilac color.

Calibrachoa

Superbells Evening Star (Calibrachoa)*

Container Role: Filler

Amount of Shade: Part Shade

If you plant these small petunia-like lilac/blue flowers in part-sun, Calibrachoa will bloom profusely until frost as a filler plant.

Superbells Evening Star‘* is my favorite variety for providing blue flowers in my containers.

Do not let them dry out or it will take them 2 weeks to recover.

Bacopa

‘Snowstorm Blue’ Bacopa

Container Role: Spiller

Amount of Shade: Part Shade

Bacopa is another great container plant for part shade that works well as a spiller.

‘Snowstorm Blue’ Bacopa* is my choice for the best blue flowers.

‘Snowstorm Blue’ Bacopa

Combine it with ‘Blue Danube’ Ageratum and ‘Meteor Shower’ Verbena for a brilliant blue show in a large container.

Ageratum

Blue Ageratum By Stephantom (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Blue Ageratum By Stephantom (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Container Role: Filler

Amount of Shade: Part Shade

Blue Ageratum* is one of the truest blue flowers to be found, and they are very easy to grow from seed.

It is in the daisy family so needs deadheading, otherwise, it is care free.

Ageratum looks lovely in containers as a filler, paired with dusty miller, blue salvia and blue or white allysum.

Trailing Lobelia

Lobelia By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Lobelia By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Container Role: Spiller

Amount of Shade: Part Shade

Trailing Lobelia comes in many different shades of blue that cascade down the sides of your pots making them perfect as spillers.

‘Riviera Midnight Blue’ Lobelia is the most electric blue to plant in your containers.

However, it doesn’t like the heat and will sometimes peter out during the hottest days of summer.

10 Best Blue Plants For Containers In The Shade

Laguna Compact Blue with Eye (Lobelia)*

If you live in the south, look for the Laguna series* which are able to take the heat a little better.

Do not let it dry out and shear after the first flush of blooms to rejuvenate new growth.

Laguna Compact Blue with Eye (Lobelia)*

Note: If you are planning to use Lobelia as a spiller, make sure to check that you are getting a trailing variety. There are some upright Lobelias that will not give the same effect.

Find some blue-flowering perennials that grow well in the shade.

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10 Best Blue Plants for Containers in the Shade - Image by By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

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Do you have other suggestions of great blue plants for containers in the shade? Tell us in the section below.



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