Dry, rooty and shady areas are a challenge to any gardener. While there are plants that can survive in the shade, all plants, even ones that thrive in dry soil, require deep watering a year after planting to encourage new root growth. In shady areas, roots grow close to the surface. Plants that have to compete for space among these roots may have to be thinned from time to time, according to Susan McClure, author of "The Midwest Gardener's Book of Lists." Dry, rooty shade plants include bear's breeches, bunchberry dogwood and English bluebell.
Bear's breeches, also known as the Grecian pattern plant, is a herbaceous perennial that tolerates dry, well-drained soil and shade. The plant is suitable for zones 8 to 10. The leaves are green, glossy and have soft spines, according to The Ohio State University. The plant's flowers bloom purple and white and will sometimes reach 6 feet in height.
Bunchberry dogwood is a small shrub used for ground cover. Its maximum height is 9 inches, according to Oregon State University. The dark green leaves are glossy and oval-shaped. The green and white flowers bloom in the spring. The plant does well in partial or full shade. Water the bunchberry until it is established. The plant is hardy to zone 2.
The English bluebell is a bulbous plant that tolerates dry shade, according to Michigan State University Extension. The plant is hardy from zones 4 to 9. The English bluebell grows to 12 inches high. The leaves are spear-shaped and basal, which means they grow from the base of the stem. The flowers are usually purple-blue, but can also be creamy white or pink, and bell-shaped. They droop, or nod, after blooming in the spring.