Buildings and tall trees and shrubs create shade that all plants cannot deal with, especially plants with flowers. Flowers do need the energy from the sun to grow, but some need less than others. It is these flowers that do very well in a shady spot, as long as they get some amount of sunshine each day.
Pansy (Viola x Wittrockiana) is also known as ladies-delight and is a member of the violet family. The plant is a perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 through 10 and an annual everywhere else. The plant grows from 4 to 10 inches tall with deep-green leaves and flowers that grow from 1 to 4 inches in diameter and come in a wide variety of color combinations. Plant pansies in partial shade or full sun and a moist organic soil.
Broadleaf woodsorrel (Oxalis latifolia) is also known as Mexican oxalis and works as a ground cover in shady areas. The plant grows from 8 to 10 inches tall and produces triangle-shaped, bright-green leaves measuring 2 inches on each side. The funnel-shaped flowers grow to 1 inch across in open clusters. Plant broadleaf woodsorrel in partial shade and a rich, moist soil. The plant is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11.
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is also known as pink milkweed. The plant grows from 2 to 4 feet tall with narrow, lance-shaped leaves along the entire length of the stems. The deep-pink or purple flowers grow in clusters at the tips of the stems, blooming from June through October and are followed by tan seed pods that stay on the plant past the fall. Plant swamp milkweed in full sun or partial shade and a soil that is moist to wet. The plant is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9 and is a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies.
Carolina springbeauty (Claytonia caroliniana Michx.) grows from 4 to 12 inches tall with two leaves located at the half-way mark of the stems and pink or white flowers with dark-pink veins growing in clusters at the top part of the stem from March through June. Plant Carolina springbeauty in partial shade and a soil that is moist to wet. The plant is hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 8. The roots are edible and resemble a potato.