Many gardeners spend a considerable amount of time wondering what to do about those shady spots. Full-shade perennial flowers can solve the mystery. These plants will light the dimness with bright blooms and interesting foliage. Even better, they'll give a repeat performance every year. A wide range of appealing perennials thrives in dense shade, according to the Iowa State University Extension.
Yellow Wax Bells
Yellow wax bells (Kirengeshoma palmata) is a hydrangea family perennial native to Korea and Japan. Hardy to minus 20 degrees F, this shrub-like plant usually stands 3 to 4 feet high, with a 2- or 3-foot spread. The plant's upright, purple stems have large--up to 8 inches across--showy, green leaves similar to maple leaves. From summer into early autumn, clusters of bell-shaped yellow blooms appear on the stems' ends and beneath the upper leaves. Horned, greenish-brown seedpods follow the waxy-textured flowers.
The largely pest- and disease-resistant plant makes an unusual addition to woodland gardens and borders, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It tolerates both partial and full shade and performs best in well-drained locations with moist, humus-rich acidic (pH below 6.8) soil.
Low-growing celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) is native to stream banks and moist woods across the Eastern United States. Growing from 12 to 18 inches tall and between 9 and 12 inches wide, it has lobed leaves with greenish-blue surfaces and silver undersides. In April and May, its upright stems bear clusters of small, bright yellow flowers. Cut stems release bright yellow sap.
Insects and diseases seldom bother this poppy. It's a good choice for wildflower and woodland gardens, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. A tendency to self-sow, however, may make it too invasive for perennial borders. Hardy to minus 30 degrees F, the plant grows well in both partial and full shade. Give it consistently moist to wet soil high in humus. In dry soil, plants go dormant by summer.
Eastern Red Columbine
Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), a buttercup family perennial native to shaded woods across the Eastern United States, grows up to 2 feet high. This plant brings attractive foliage as well as showy blooms to partial or full shade. Its basal clump of airy, deeply lobed grayish-green leaves has multiple, slender stems. Between February and June, each stem bears a single, spurred, red and yellow flower. Fragrant nectar fills the spur of each drooping blossom, drawing hummingbirds to the shade garden.
This columbine requires a well-drained location, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It flowers best, however, where soil is not exceptionally fertile. Thin, sandy or sandy loam soils produce compact plants with strong stems.