Brighten up the dullest, darkest corners of your garden by filling them with shade-loving perennials. Perennials are low-maintenance flowers or plants that live and bloom year after year. A wide variety of easy-to-grow perennials thrive in full to partial shade. Gardeners who have a difficult time finding plants for the north-facing sections of their homes or gardens often find that shade-tolerant perennials are perfect for those areas.
Lily of the Valley
The highly-fragrant, white or light pink, bell-shaped flower of the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) brings a graceful beauty to any shady spot. Lily of the valley plants prefer full to partial shade and are ideal for edging walkways or for using as a ground cover in beds and rock gardens. Plants reach a height of 6 to 8 inches and have a 6 inch spread. The lily of the valley grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 7, and thrives when planted in rich, moist soils. The flowers are drought tolerant but need regular watering during the growing season, once or twice a week is sufficient. The lily of the valley produces a red, poisonous berry once it's finished blooming.
The cold-hardy perennial hosta is a shade-loving plant that fills gardens and beds with attractive, patterned foliage. The leaves of the hosta come in various shades of green and gold; some leaves have a blue undertone. Hosta leaves are variegated and have white, cream or gold patterns. Shapes vary from heart-shaped to cupped and lance-like, and sizes range from 2 inches to 2 feet in length. Hostas grow in USDA zones 3 and 4 and, although they tolerate deep shade, they thrive when exposed to dappled or filtered shade for most of the day. Plant hostas in rich, moist, well-drained soil and water deeply--1 inch of water weekly.
The semi-evergreen, ground cover phlox (Phlox subulata) flourishes in partial shade and produces a delicate, bright-blue, pink and purple flower that puts on a spectacular spring display. Phlox reaches heights of 6 inches and has a 2-foot spread. The foliage of phlox is dark-green and prickly to the touch. Plants thrive in well-drained, moist, alkaline soil and flourish when watered every other day during high heat. According to the Ohio State University, the cold-hardy phlox grows in USDA zones 3 through 9. Phlox blooms early in the spring and makes an excellent spreading ground cover for use around houses, walkways or in rock gardens.
Commonly known as lungwort, pulmonaria ( Pulmonaria saccharata) is a shade-loving ground cover that's best used in rock gardens and as bed edging. The flowers of the pulmonaria exhibit a rather unusual behavior as they change colors when they fade. The red or reddish-pink blossoms fade to a shade of blue. The attractive foliage of the pulmonaria is deep-green in color and is often marked with white flecks. Plants grow in USDA zones 3 through 9, and range from 9 to 24 inches in height and have a 18- to 24-inch spread. Pulmonaria thrives in moist, organic soil and in partial shade, and must be watered three or four times a week.