Contrary to popular belief, many perennials are suitable for growing in shady areas. Varieties exist that are suitable for moist or dry, full or partial shade areas. Choose varieties that fit the characteristics of the site for the healthiest, most robust plants.
A small, 15-inch high perennial, corydalis (Corydalis lutea) has bluish-green leaves that resemble those of culinary Italian parsley. Its tiny, yellow flowers resemble the flowers of bleeding heart. Corydalis prefers to be planted near rocks in slightly alkaline soil that is well-drained and gravelly. It is an ideal plant for a rock garden or a stone wall. Although it does best in partial shade, corydalis will also grow in full sun. It is a prolific reseeder, although it is difficult to start from seed, due to its complicated stratification requirements, according to the University of Vermont Extension.
False Solomon's Seal
Found in moist woodlands, false Solomon's seal (Smilacina racemosa) grows up to 3-foot long unbranching, arching stems with dark green, alternate leaves. White to yellow flowers appear on a spike which grows out from the terminal end of the stems. Solomon's seal prefers partial to full shade and blooms in late spring.
A fast-growing 3 to 4-inch high evergreen perennial, ajuga (Ajuga reptans) prefers shade to partial shade and sandy, well-drained soil, although it tolerates clay soils. Its glossy, dark, evergreen leaves emerge with a reddish tint before turning green. In spring it produces blue-violet flowers on short spikes. Ajuga works well in moist areas. Because it is so attractive to bumblebees, it is an excellent choice for a bee garden.