Best Blue Annuals For Shade (Flowers For Pots)

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Trying to find plants that will thrive in containers in the shade can be a bit tricky. This list of blue annuals for 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

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 flowers for shade pots.

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?

Blue containers filled with blue and purple annuals
©Jamie Hooper / Adobe Stock

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

I use mostly annuals in containers because they bloom consistently all summer and require little care except regular watering and fertilizing.

However, due to all the trees in my yard, I am confined to choosing annuals that will tolerate shade.  

This is a challenge because there are not many true blue plants in nature. And those that thrive in the shade are even rarer.

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

1 | Streptocarpella (streptocarpus saxorum)

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Streptocarpella with blue flowers growing in a hanging basket

Container role: Spiller
Exposure: Full shade
Height: 6″ to 8″
Width: 12″ to 18″

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.

Streptocarpella in a hanging basket hung in a hole in the fence surrounded by Rhododendrons and Climbing Hydrangea

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

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.

2 | Browallia

blue flowers of browallia speciosa

Container role: Filler or spiller
Exposure: Part to full shade
Height: 10″ to 12″
Width: 12″ to 18″

Browallia is a profuse bloomer with star-shaped, true blue flowers on a mounded 10″ plant that does not need deadheading.

It is a reliable filler for your shade container.

Use slow release fertilizer when potting up and water regularly.

3 | Salvia

Salvia, dianthus and lithodora in a container

Container role: Thriller
Exposure: Part shade
Height: 12″ to 18″
Width: 12″ to 18″

There are many different varieties of blue blooming salvias that you can grow in containers, but ‘Victoria Blue’ is my favorite.

It has deep 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 part shade 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.

Blue salvia flowers with Calibrachoa in a container
Salvia with Petunias and Creeping Jenny via ** Pinning this image will link to the original source

This beautiful planter from 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.

4 | Superbena® Verbena

Superbena Royale Chambray (Verbena)

Container role: Filler or spiller
Exposure: Part shade
Height: 6″ to 12″
Width: 18″ to 30″

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 bright blue color, try Superbena® Royale Chambray.

Like salvia, it needs part shade.

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’.

5 | Verbena bonariensis

Container role: Thriller
Exposure: Part shade
Height: 20″ to 30″
Width: 18″ to 30″

Another type of verbena to try is Verbena bonariensis.

It is a tall plant with blue flowers that has an upright habit and grows to 20-30″. Which makes it ideal for using as a thriller in a part shade container.

Meteor Shower‘ is my favorite color of this Verbena variety.

Its typical verbena tufted blooms are a violet/lilac color.

6 | Calibrachoa

Superbells Evening Star (Calibrachoa)

Container role: Filler
Exposure: Part shade
Height: 12″ to 18″
Width: 18″ to 30″

Another of my favorite shade plants for pots is Calibrachoa.

If you plant these small lilac blue petunia shaped flowers in part shade, 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.

7 | Bacopa

'Snowstorm Blue' Bacopa

Container role: Spiller
Exposure: Part shade
Height: 12″ to 18″
Width: 18″ to 30″

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.

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

8 | Ageratum

blue ageratum flowers

Container role: Filler
Exposure: Part shade
Height: 10″ to 12″
Width: 12″ to 18″

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 white alyssum.

9 | Trailing Lobelia

Blue trailing lobellia in pots with Heuchera, Calladiums and Sweet potato vine

Container role: Spiller
Exposure: Part shade
Height: 6″ to 8″
Width: 12″ to 18″

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.

close up of blue trailing lobelia flowers

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.

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.

10 | Nemesia fruticans ‘Bluebird’

Nemesia fruticans 'Bluebird'

Container role: Filler
Exposure: Part shade
Height: 10″ to 12″
Width: 12″ to 18″

Nemesia fruticans ‘Bluebird’ has clove-scented purple-blue flowers that bloom from spring to frost.

It doesn’t require deadheading, but if night temperatures are warm it often benefits from a light trim to shape the plant and increase blooms.

Other container ideas you might like

Other blue flowering plants you might like

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

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10 blue flowering annuals that will make your containers look amazing

This post was originally published on March 28, 2017 but was updated with new content on October 21, 2022.

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  1. Pamela Morasko says:

    Niembergia Blue

    1. Thank you Pamela for your suggestion. “Nierembergia blue” would be gorgeous, easy care filler plant in a sunny container. Have you had success with growing it in the shade?

  2. How did the blue coleus do for you? I’m waiting to try it !

    1. Hi Patti…I hate to admit I’m a little behind in my planting (the story of my life these days) so I’m not sure yet if they will grow true to color. I will definitely post an update with new pictures when the plants are big enough to show something.

  3. M Krogulski says:

    You forgot Virginia bluebells! They are a bed of blue before my hostas come up.

    1. Thanks for the addition to the list! You are right…Virginia Bluebells do have pretty blue flowers 🙂

  4. Marilyn krogulski says:

    Blue alliums

    1. Thanks, Marilyn! They are really pretty 🙂

  5. Cityline Vienna, Bigleaf Hydrangea

    Blue Chiffon, Rose of Sharon

    Tuff Stuff Ah-ha, Reblooming Mountain Hydrangea

    Cityline Mars, Bigleaf Hydrangea

    1. Thank you Nicole for adding to the list of blue blooming plants. I have not tried Rose of Sharon in a pot and have had poor luck with Hydrangeas in pots. They will need acidic soil to produce blue blooms.

    2. Thanks for the additions to the list, Nicole!

  6. I am obsessed with blue anything! You should see my house! Anyway, I just learned about blue coleus. I ordered some seeds and just started them today. I put some seeds in a little peat pod, covered it with plastic wrap and put it under a light. I’m so excited to see what happens. After I saw your love of blue, I just had to reply! Will keep you posted! Take care,

    1. Hello Connie, I am very interested to hear how your blue Coleus turns out and what it looks like. I am tempted to start some next winter for my spring pots. Thanks for your comments.

  7. Flora,

    As soon as my blue coleus pops up I will let you know! And hopefully it will!

    Take care and happy gardening!

  8. Gorgeous ideas…..however I live in FL and many of these won’t survive summer heat and humidity……perhaps you can list zone info.
    Keep up great ideas and beautiful flowering pots

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks, Deb! You’re right that most of these grow better in cooler climates (and I will update the zone information).

  9. Hi everyone, I’m thrilled with all the shade plants that I’m learning about. If there is anyone out there that can help me find some shrubs and flowers that will also tolerate clay soil I will be forever grateful. Happy gardening.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Barbara…Have you seen our post on the best perennials to grow in clay? If not, you can find it HERE. For shrubs, you can try lilacs, weigela, rose of sharon and Annabelle Hydrangeas.

  10. Charlotte says:

    where can i buy blue coleus seeds? I love blue flowers.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Charlotte…I love blue flowers, too! You used to be able to buy blue coleus seeds on Amazon. But the ones I tried didn’t grow. And I haven’t seen them listed recently so I’m not sure if they are still selling them.