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20 Best Colorful Flowering Plants for Under Trees

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Written By Sophia Martinez

Organic & Sustainable Gardening Enthusiast

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Home » Companion Plants » 20 Best Colorful Flowering Plants for Under Trees

Got a tree in your yard and want to plant some pretty colorful flowering plants under it?

We showcase 20 stunning plants that bloom beautifully and love being planted under trees.

Take a look at these photos of all the different varieties so you can choose the best ones that suit your yard.

Top 20 Colorful Plants to Brighten Shaded Tree Areas

1. Hostas

Thriving in the dappled shade under trees, Hostas bring lush foliage and subtle blooms to any garden corner.

Their leaves range in color from deep greens to vibrant variegated patterns, creating a visual feast even when not in flower.

Perfect for filling those tricky shady spots, these plants can make any under-tree area a standout feature.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-9
  • Blooming Duration: 2-4 weeks
  • Colors: Blue, Green, Yellow, Gold, Variegated
  • Blooming Period: Late spring to early summer
  • Average Mature Size: 1-3 feet in height and 2-4 feet in spread
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Hosta spp.

2. Astilbes

Add a burst of feathery blooms to your shaded garden areas with Astilbes.

Known for their vibrant and showy flower spikes, they are as tough as they are beautiful, tolerating poor soil and shade while still delivering spectacular summer color.

They’re particularly effective in masses under tree canopies where few other blooming plants dare to thrive.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: 4-6 weeks
  • Colors: White, Pink, Red, Purple, Peach or Salmon
  • Blooming Period: Mid-summer
  • Average Mature Size: 1.5-2 feet tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Astilbe spp.

3. Bleeding Hearts

With heart-shaped flowers that dangle delicately from arching stems, Bleeding Hearts are a captivating choice for shadowed garden spots beneath trees.

They start blooming in late spring and can continue into early summer, offering a romantic touch to any landscape.

These perennials are beloved for their old-fashioned charm and low-maintenance nature.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-9
  • Blooming Duration: 6-8 weeks
  • Colors: Pink, White, Red
  • Blooming Period: Late spring to early summer
  • Average Mature Size: 2-3 feet tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Dicentra spectabilis

4. Hellebores

Hellebores are the stalwarts of the winter and early spring garden, providing much-needed blooms under tree canopies when most other plants are dormant.

Their nodding flowers in hues of cream, green, pink, purple, or maroon add subtle elegance.

These perennials are not only beautiful but also remarkably resistant to cold and neglect.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: 8-10 weeks
  • Colors: White, Pink, Red, Purple, Green
  • Blooming Period: Winter to early spring
  • Average Mature Size: 1-1.5 feet tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Helleborus spp.

5. Cyclamen

Cyclamen are charming flowering plants ideal for brightening the base of trees with their upswept petals and heart-shaped leaves.

Blooming in the cooler months, they offer a splash of color when most plants are fading away.

Compact and versatile, Cyclamen work well for underplanting and bringing life to shaded garden nooks.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 5-9 (when planted outdoors)
  • Blooming Duration: 2-3 months
  • Colors: White, Pink, Red, Purple, Magenta
  • Blooming Period: Fall to spring
  • Average Mature Size: 6-9 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial (often grown as annuals in colder climates)
  • Botanical Name: Cyclamen spp.

6. Epimediums

Dubbed the ‘fairy wings’ or ‘bishop’s hat,’ Epimediums offer not only charming, delicate flowers but also attractive foliage that changes throughout the seasons.

These hardy perennials are perfect for dry shade, making them excellent companions under tree canopies.

Their ground-covering habit helps suppress weeds while providing a long season of interest.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 5-9
  • Blooming Duration: 4-6 weeks
  • Colors: Yellow, White, Pink, Red, Purple, Orange
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 8-12 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Epimedium spp.

7. Anemones

Brightening up the autumn landscape, Anemones, also known as windflowers, are a fantastic option for adding a touch of whimsy beneath trees.

Their poppy-like blossoms dance on slender stems in the breeze and can thrive in the partial shade provided by arboreal canopies.

They keep the garden lively as the season transitions to cooler weather.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: 6-8 weeks
  • Colors: White, Pink, Red, Purple, Blue
  • Blooming Period: Late summer to fall
  • Average Mature Size: 1-2 feet tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Anemone spp.

8. Rhododendrons and Azaleas

For spectacular spring blooms under trees, Rhododendrons and Azaleas are unrivaled with their dazzling array of colors and sizes.

These acid-loving shrubs thrive in dappled shade and moist, well-drained soil, making them ideal for wooded garden settings.

Their lush evergreen foliage keeps the garden vibrant year-round.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: 3-4 weeks
  • Colors: White, Pink, Red, Purple, Yellow, Orange, Multi-Color
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: Varies widely, 2-25 feet in height depending on species and cultivar
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Rhododendron spp.

9. Lily of the Valley

Bringing a sweet scent and delicate bell-shaped flowers, Lily of the Valley fills the air with fragrance in late spring.

This low-growing perennial spreads quickly under trees, forming dense mats of foliage that are ideal for shady spots.

Its traditional charm is a favorite in both old-fashioned and modern garden designs.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 2-7
  • Blooming Duration: 3-4 weeks
  • Colors: White, Pink
  • Blooming Period: Late spring
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Convallaria majalis

10. Foxglove

Adding vertical drama to the landscape, Foxgloves feature tall spikes of tubular flowers that are magnets for bees and hummingbirds.

These biennials are particularly striking under tree canopies, where their height and colorful blooms can shine even in partial shade.

Foxgloves are a must-have for creating a cottage garden feel in any shaded area.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: 4-6 weeks
  • Colors: White, Pink, Purple, Yellow, Cream
  • Blooming Period: Early to mid-summer
  • Average Mature Size: 2-5 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Biennial (often grown as an annual)
  • Botanical Name: Digitalis purpurea

11. Primroses

Primroses light up the early spring garden with their vivid, cheerful blooms.

These small but mighty flowers are ideal for brightening the base of trees, thriving in the moist, shaded conditions they love.

With a palette ranging from white to deep purple, they provide a colorful ground cover that’s hard to miss.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: 3-4 weeks
  • Colors: Yellow, White, Pink, Red, Blue, Purple, Mixed Colors
  • Blooming Period: Early spring
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Primula spp.

12. Pulmonaria

Known for their speckled foliage and clusters of pink and blue flowers, Pulmonaria, or lungwort, adds a unique texture and color to shady garden spots.

This perennial is one of the first to bloom in spring, providing early nectar for pollinators under the canopy of trees.

Its low-maintenance nature makes it a favorite among gardeners.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: 4-6 weeks
  • Colors: Blue, Pink, White
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 12-18 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Pulmonaria spp.

13. Trilliums

Trilliums are the quintessential woodland plants, with their three-petaled flowers standing elegantly above whorls of three leaves.

These native beauties are perfect under trees, where they can mimic their natural forest floor habitat.

Trilliums are treasured for their simplicity and the understated charm they bring to shady spaces.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: 2-3 weeks
  • Colors: White, Pink, Red, Purple, Yellow
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 12-18 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Trillium spp.

14. Virginia Bluebells

Celebrated for their vivid blue, bell-shaped flowers, Virginia Bluebells create a striking display under tree canopies in early to mid-spring.

These perennials emerge as one of the first splashes of color in the garden, later dying back to allow summer plants to shine.

They’re an excellent choice for naturalizing in wooded areas.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: 3-5 weeks
  • Colors: Blue, Pink, White
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 18-24 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Mertensia virginica

15. Columbine

With their distinctive, nodding flowers and fern-like foliage, Columbines are a delightful addition to any shady garden.

These perennials are adaptable to various conditions but thrive under the dappled light of trees.

Their unique flower shape attracts a variety of pollinators, adding life and color to the understory.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: 4-6 weeks
  • Colors: Blue, Red, Yellow, Pink, Purple, White, Bi-colors
  • Blooming Period: Late spring to early summer
  • Average Mature Size: 1-2 feet tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Aquilegia spp.

16. Heuchera

Dazzling with its ever-changing foliage that ranges from silver to deep burgundy, Heuchera, also known as coral bells, adds significant color to shadowy garden spots under trees.

Its tiny bell-shaped flowers rise on tall stems above the foliage in early summer, ideal for edging and bringing vibrant hues to darker areas.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: 3-4 weeks
  • Colors: Green, Red, Purple, Silver, Peach & Orange, Yellow & Gold
  • Blooming Period: Early summer
  • Average Mature Size: 12-18 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Heuchera spp.

17. Forget-me-nots

Synonymous with their bright blue flowers, Forget-me-nots create a sea of color in the spring.

Preferring moist, shady areas, these charming little blooms are perfect for softening spaces under trees, self-seeding and spreading effortlessly for a reliable yearly show.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: 4-5 weeks
  • Colors: Blue, Pink, White
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 5-12 inches tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Biennial (often grown as an annual)
  • Botanical Name: Myosotis sylvatica

18. Jack-in-the-Pulpit

With its unique, hooded flower spathes that envelop a spike of florets, Jack-in-the-Pulpit stands out.

This intriguing native plant thrives in the moist, shaded woodlands, making it a perfect fit for under-tree plantings where it adds a touch of mystery and architectural intrigue.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: 3-4 weeks
  • Colors: Green, Purple or Maroon
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 1-2 feet tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Arisaema triphyllum

19. Toad Lily

Offering an exotic flair with its orchid-like, speckled flowers, Toad Lily blooms in late summer to fall, a time when few other plants do.

This perennial is ideal for shady gardens beneath tree canopies, delivering a surprising burst of color and intricate detail.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: 4-6 weeks
  • Colors: White, Purple, Yellow, Pink
  • Blooming Period: Late summer to fall
  • Average Mature Size: 2-3 feet tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Tricyrtis hirta

20. Japanese Anemone

Elegant, poppy-like flowers that sway atop wiry stems light up the fall garden when Japanese Anemones bloom.

Perfect for under trees, their late-season blooms breathe new life into areas as other plants begin to fade, adding graceful, airy movements to shaded spots.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: 4-8 weeks
  • Colors: White, Pink, Rose
  • Blooming Period: Late summer to fall
  • Average Mature Size: 2-4 feet tall and wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Anemone hupehensis

Want More?

If you loved this article, but want to learn about colorful trees, we have plenty of articles to explore.

Check out our guides on long-blooming trees and shrubs to keep your garden looking lively.

You can also read about trees with yellow, blue, pink, orange, red, and white flowers.

For more beautiful options, see our articles on the prettiest flowering trees and those that bloom in spring.

Each article will help you find the perfect tree to brighten your garden all year round.

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Sophia Martinez

Organic & Sustainable Gardening Enthusiast

Sophia has cultivated her gardening skills over the past decade, focusing on the care of both ornamental and fruit-bearing trees. Her deep understanding of sustainable gardening practices stems from a lifelong passion for nature and plant life. Beyond her professional life, Sophia spends her leisure time engaged with the natural world. She enjoys birdwatching and nature photography, capturing the intricate beauty of the ecosystems around her.