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Purple and Blue Part Shade Perennials To Plant With Spring-Blooming Bulbs

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Bulbs are a beautiful way to add flowers to your spring garden. But the plants don’t look that great once they are finished blooming. Which is where this list of purple and blue part shade perennials to plant with spring bulbs comes in handy.

Blue and purple part shade perennials

Bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocuses and alliums are a great way to add color to your spring garden.

However, they do have a couple of problems:

  1. The bulbs go dormant in the summer, so they can leave some empty spots in your garden
  2. The plants don’t look great after they have finished blooming (and you need to leaves until they die back since that’s how the bulbs replenish themselves for the next year).

Which is why planting companion plants with the bulbs is a really good idea.

I like to use plants with blue or purple flowers for this purpose. They provide a great backdrop for the pink, red, white and yellow colors that are common in spring bulbs.

And because I often plant bulbs under deciduous trees and around shrubs, the companion plants need to grow well in part shade.

Which is where this list of purple and blue part shade perennials to plant with spring bulbs comes in handy.

Dwarf Purple Rhododendron

Rhododendron impeditum - ©alisseja - stock.adobe.com
Rhododendron impeditum* – ©alisseja – stock.adobe.com

Zones: 5 to 8
Bloom Time: Spring
Height: 18″

This small bush (Rhododendron impeditum) with its dark green glossy aromatic evergreen foliage and its intense blue/purple blossoms will shine in the spring border.

Plant it in dappled light with acid soil and see how the spring bulbs bounce off its color!

You can buy it HERE*.

Click HERE for more information about growing Rhododendrons.


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Clematis 'H.F. Young'
Clematis ‘H.F. Young’*

Zones: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: Spring through fall (depending on the variety)
Height: 36″ to 72″ (depending on the variety)

Next up on our list of purple and blue part shade perennials is Clematis.

Spring-blooming varieties of Clematis are great companion plants for spring bulbs.

They produce a great show of flowers right around the time that the tulips are blooming

Clematis ‘H.F. Young’ is a purple clematis with large 7″ blooms in late spring and early summer.

You can find it HERE.*

Clematis 'New Love'
Clematis ‘New Love’

If you want a Clematis with blue flowers that blooms from spring through summer and has a beautiful fragrance, try ‘New Love’.

It grows to 36″ high and 20″ wide which makes it more of a border filler plant than a vine…which is perfect for your bulb garden!

You can find it HERE.

Clematis like cool roots so cover them with a generous layer of mulch after planting.

Click HERE if you want more information on growing and pruning Clematis.

Alpine Columbine

Columbine and Iris

Zones: 4 to 8
Bloom Time: Spring
Height: 18″

The Alpine Columbine (Aquilegia alpina) has blue nodding flowers above gray foliage that bloom in late spring and bring a cottage feel to the border.

They look best in groups of 3 or 5.

When they self-seed, I leave them be to allow a less contrived feel.

Because they are easy to grow from seed, you can save yourself some money by growing them yourself.

You can find seeds HERE*.


You may also want to try ‘winky double blue and white Columbine’ for its small double blue blossoms.

Buy it HERE.*

‘Purple Dalmation’ Foxgloves

Zones: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: Late Spring to Mid Summer
Height: 36″ to 48″

Foxgloves are a tall biennial plant that have tall spiky flowers.

Unlike many biennials, this variety blooms well the first year. Cut off the stalks after it has bloomed to encourage more flowers the second year.

It will self-seed to continue producing more plants year after year. The seedlings are easy to move if you don’t like the locations where they end up.

These plants will look great with the Alliums at the back of the border but may require staking to prevent them from falling over.

Buy it HERE.*


Delphiniums ©perlphoto - stock.adobe.com
Delphiniums* ©perlphoto – stock.adobe.com

Zones: 3 to 7
Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
Height: 30″ to 36″

Delphiniums are a perennial that are topped by tall, spiked blooms. They are one of the plants that produces true blue flowers.

Like Foxgloves, they will do well at the back of the border and may require staking to prevent them from falling over.

You can find them HERE.*

‘Royal Candles’ Dwarf Spike Speedwell

Veronica spicata 'Royal Candles' © Sharon Day - stock.adobe.com
Dwarf Spike Speedwell ‘Royal Candles’* © Sharon Day – stock.adobe.com

Zones: 2 to 9
Bloom Time: Summer
Height: 9″ to 12″

Dwarf Spike Speedwell (Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’) creates a clump of royal blue spikes atop green foliage.

The blooms appear in June, last for several weeks and will re-bloom if sheared by half.

The spikes add a new dimension to the border, and although veronica blooms after the tulips are finished, it continues the feel of spring.

You can find these HERE.*

‘Victoria’ Blue Salvia

Salvia 'Victoria Blue' ©APHIRAK - stock.adobe.com
Salvia ‘Victoria’* ©APHIRAK – stock.adobe.com

Zones: 8 to 10
Bloom Time: Summer to fall
Height: 18″

Salvia is one of my favorite blue plants.

Even though this variety is grown as an annual in my garden, it has the most vibrant deep blue spikes that I think it’s worth mentioning.

It is a great plant to hide those dying bulb leaves, and it blooms all summer into the fall.

I plant it in every available vacant spot in my part-sun garden.

You can buy the plants from your local nursery in the spring. Or save yourself some money and plant them from seed (which you can find HERE*).

Cranesbill ‘Rozanne’

Cranesbill 'Rozanne' ©Iva - stock.adobe.com
Cranesbill ‘Rozanne’* ©Iva – stock.adobe.com

Zones: 4 to 10
Bloom Time: Summer to fall
Height: 18″

Cranesbill ‘Rozanne’ is a perennial geranium that was selected perennial of the year in 2008.

It blooms all season from June to frost and requires no attention.

Its cut leaf foliage will camouflage the dying tulip leaves.

You can buy it HERE.*

‘My Monet Purple Effect’ Weigela

Weigela 'My Monet Purple Effect'
Weigela ‘My Monet Purple Effect’*

Zones: 4 to 8
Bloom Time: Spring to Summer
Height: 24″

‘My Monet Purple Effect’ is a dwarf variety of Weigela that is a new shrub for 2020. It’s similar to the original My Monet Weigela but is supposed to be easier to grow.

Mauve- pink flowers amid variegated foliage on a compact deciduous bush that does not need pruning is my idea of a worthy plant.

I love this little bush and plan to plant it so that the tulips will grow up through it.

In my experience with the original ‘My Monet’ plants, they do best in part shade. They bloom in Spring with some repeat blossom thereafter.

You can buy it HERE*.

‘Tuff Stuff’ Hydrangea (Hydrangea serrata)

Tuff Stuff Hydrangea
Tuff Stuff Hydrangea*

Zones: 5 to 9
Bloom Time: Spring to Summer
Height: 24″ to 36″

The Tuff Stuff Hydrangea is a compact, re-blooming Hydrangea with flowers that will change color depending on the pH level in your soil. (So if you want the blue color, make sure it is on the acidic side.)

With its small size and dense growing habit, it’s the perfect small shrub to act as both a background for blooming bulbs and a cover-up for the empty spots.

As the name implies, this is a tough plant that is very low maintenance once it gets going.

Buy it HERE.*

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Have comments or questions on our purple and blue part shade perennials to plant with spring bulbs?  Tell us in the section below.

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This post was originally published on March 17, 2017 but was updated with new content on September 12, 2023.

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