Perennial plants have long been a favorite among garden enthusiasts because of their ability to come back each year on their own, without any help from the gardener. Shade-loving perennials are sought after for their ability to grow and flourish without much sunlight.
Rhododendrons belong to the same family as azaleas. Although both plants are listed as rhododendrons by plant taxonomists, the plants commonly known as rhododendrons are evergreen varieties with large, tough leaves. They bloom in various colors including red, pink and white. These plants grow well in shade with filtered sunlight, or morning sunlight and then shade for the remainder of the day. Plant rhododendrons in soil that has excellent drainage, and take care to choose a location that offers protection from the wind. Rhododendrons are considered "heavy rooted", so a thick layer of mulch is necessary to retain moisture and protect the roots. Hardy varieties of rhododendron do not require winter protection, but less resilient cultivars may require a screen to protect them from the winter sun and wind.
Hosta, sometimes called plantain lily, is a popular perennial for shady areas. Hostas can grow up to 4 feet tall, with blooms that emerge atop spikes. The flowers appear in shades of lavender, purple and blue, with foliage that is dull to glossy and green, yellow, blue or white. Some foliage is variegated, or marked with stripes of white. Plant hosta in well-drained soil in a shady location. Hostas are drought tolerant, but should be given consistent moisture to keep them in the best condition. Be sure to plant them in a location that provides protection from the wind. Water hosta plants at the base and avoid getting the foliage wet. Wet foliage creates the perfect environment for disease.
Columbine, or Aquilegia, is an herbaceous perennial known for its bell-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring in shades of red, blue, pink and yellow. Although columbine plants may grow in sunny locations, they prefer shade. They are adaptable that will grow well in different types of soil as long as it is well-drained. Plant columbine is a location that receives morning sun and then shade for the rest of the day. Water when the soil feels dry and fertilize once a month according to label directions. With proper care, a single columbine plant can produce flowers for three to five years.