All plants need sunlight, but some don't need direct sunlight. They grow well in deep shade or prefer the dappled shade of a tall tree. Some will grow well in deep shade while others need at least a little sunlight to grow at a normal rate. Make decisions based on the amount of sunlight your planting bed gets during the growing season and select plants suited to that environment.
These annual flowers have a trailing habit with large, showy flowers on thick stems above dark green leaves. Some varieties have variegated foliage and heights range from six to 15 inches or more. A few are short lived perennials as far north as USDA Zone 6, but most are grown as annuals. Tuberous begonias prefer dappled shade but will withstand full sun in cool climates with adequate watering.
A small shrub with a mounding habit, sweetspire grows three to five feet tall and does just fine in full shade. In early to midsummer the plant produces numerous cylinder shaped white blooms that last a full month or longer. Later, after the blooms have subsided, the foliage puts on a fall display of reds and oranges. Perfect for the north side of the house or in a dappled shade garden, sweetspire is hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
Technically a perennial, fuchsia is used as an annual everywhere except USDA Zones 9 to 10. Delicate, cup shaped flowers surrounded by (usually) contrasting sepals have long protruding stamens. Red petals with white sepals, salmon and pink, whites and oranges and other combinations highlight this somewhat upright, somewhat trailing plant. Fuchsia prefer dappled shade and will tolerate some sun.
Sedge is a cool season perennial grass that grows in clumps 10 to 16 inches tall. Foliage is usually variegated with white to cream margins and greenish centers. Use sedge in the border garden as a fill in or in containers to add interest. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9, sedge may require protection in areas of Zone 5.
Most are familiar with ivy as a trailing plant that climbs walls, houses and trellises. Numerous varieties and cultivars are available and all are perennial. Ivies are best suited to shade and part shade situations although most prefer dappled shade over deep shade. Check hardiness before buying as different varieties vary. Most do well in USDA Zones 5 to 9, some further south to Zone 11. Foliage ranges from dark to light green, deep purple and occasionally gray.
Also known as bride's bonnet, corn lily and queen cup, this hardy perennial prefers cool climates. A native American plant, bluebead is hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9. An upright habit and growing height of eight to 24 inches make this woodland plant ideal for naturalizing or front of the border plantings. Bluebead's petite bell shaped flowers of pink, yellow and white dance above the green, tongue-like leaves in early- to mid-summer.