Gardening recommendations from DU’s horticulturalists

Perennials for shade

Hostas are known for their beautiful leaves, but they also put out a stalk of lovely white flowers. Several different varieties are available with different leaf textures and sizes. Some varieties will grow to a couple of feet in diameter. Blooming times are from late May or June to September. 

Bleeding heart

Bleeding heart has inch-long, heart-shaped flowers that hang from arching stems. Flowers can be pink to white, and they bloom from mid- to late spring until early summer.

Astilbe has plumes of flowers in pink, lavender, red, white and salmon, as well as fern-like foliage.  One of the most common perennials for shade, it works well as a border or along paths. Astilbe blooms from early to late summer. 

Hydrangea is one of the most popular shade-loving perennials, offering big round clusters of flowers in pink, blue and white. A woody flowering shrub, hydrangeas flower from mid-spring through summer. 

Annuals for full sun

Wave petunias grow aggressively, and when planted 12 inches apart, they mound up 16–22 inches high and resemble waves. We get more compliments on the wave petunias than on any other of our flowers. They beautifully flow over when planted in pots. They are available in a variety of colors—red, blue, pink, salmon and white.  

Marigold is a cheerful flower that is easy to plant, and it retains its brightness all summer long. It comes in gold, copper and brass. Marigolds can grow to between 6 inches and 2 feet tall.


Dianthuses are a striking carnation-like flower that emit a spicy cinnamon and clove scent. The colors are red, pink, rose, lavender, white and yellow. They grow between 6–18 inches.

Zenia have a daisy-like flower on a single stem. They grow quickly and bloom heavily to create a burst of color. Colors include pink, red, purple, orange, yellow, lavender, white and even green.  

Coreopsis is a drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plant that is great for borders and fillers. Colors include red, pink, white and yellow. Many sport dark brown and maroon centers that offer an interesting contrast to the petals.  

Dahlias come in a rainbow of colors and several sizes. Dahlia lovers will tell you that once you grow one, you want to grow more. The roots of dahlias are tubers, which can be dug up, stored and replanted the following season to produce yet more dahlias. 

Celosia provides shapes that resemble plumed candle flames, coral or something depicted in science fiction. They come in a variety of colors and provide great contrast to other flowers. Most varieties are 6–12 inches in height, but some can reach a height of 3 feet. 


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