Shady gardens provide a cool respite during hot summer months. Sipping a cool drink under the dappled shade of a tree is a special treat. Some gardeners think that shade means they can only grow green plants. There are many ways to bring color into a shade garden through flowers and brightly colored plants.
Coleus is a frost-tender perennial grown as an annual in cold winter areas. It has insignificant tiny flowers. The impact comes not from the flowers but from the foliage in colors of purple, red, yellow, pink, white and green. It's not uncommon for the foliage to be splashed with contrasting color. Bright pink with bright yellow pops in a shaded garden. The plants have arrow-shaped leaves from 2 to 4 inches long and grow to 24 inches high. Pinch out the tips of the branches to keep the plant bushy and compact.
Impatiens prefer dappled shade and can take some direct sun as long as they don't get too hot. The plants are 8 inches high with small leaves. The flowers are bigger than the leaves and will cover the plant under ideal conditions. Colors include white, pink, orange, hot pink and almost red. Impatiens make a lovely border around a shady bed.
These plants are some of the brightest in the bunch. The leaves are an elongated heart shape 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. They grow from a bulb. The leaves are green with markings of white, pink, dark pink and purple. Some of the varieties have more bright color than green. They are easy to grow but require warm weather because they originated in the tropics. Plants in deeper shade will have more green than color. Fertilizer can change the color of the plants as well.
Tuberous begonias require dappled shade and can handle a bit of direct sun in the early morning or late afternoon. They like well-drained rich soil and must have regular watering if there isn't enough rainfall or if the rain is blocked by branches or a wall. Colors are bright including yellow, orange, red and white. The flowers are the size of a golf ball but somewhat flattened. The flowers can be single or double and have ruffled edges and contrasting colors. Begonias will go dormant for part of the year. In cold winter areas they must be lifted and stored in a cool but not freezing place.