Shady areas in your yard need not be dark and gloomy. There are a host of plants and flowers that can add color and interest in these areas that have either dappled light or deep shade. Along with ferns, hostas and perhaps a few shade-loving shrubs, perennial flowers will add an eye-catching array of color. Most shade perennials do better in moist areas. The following flowers prefer full to part shade, unless otherwise noted.
Helleborus (Lenten Rose)
The Lenten Rose is one of the first to bloom in late winter and early spring. Hardy in zones 4 to 9, it prefers moist, fertile soil. Lenten rose grows up to about 15 inches tall, with cup-shaped flowers in either white, pink, deep maroon or purple flowers.
This feathery perennial is popular in shady areas, hardy from zones 3 to 9 and available in sizes ranging from 8 inches up to 4 feet. It prefers moist, fertile soil, needing a bit of extra watering during periods of drought. Astilbe comes in white, lavender, red or pink varieties.
Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Heuchera has tiny tiny flowers atop tall, 10 to 12 inch stalks surrounded by clumps of variegated leaves. They are hardy in zones 3 to 8 and prefer light to part shade. Flowers available are white, pink, and deep red. The foliage is just as pleasing, large-leaved and deep maroon or purple in color. They bloom from spring to midsummer.
Another popular shade perennial is the Bleeding-heart which, as its name implies, has dainty flowers that resemble a heart shape. It comes in white to deep pink and is hardy in zones 2 to 9. It, too, prefers moist soil and may go dormant over the heat of summer. Bleeding-heart can grow to 2 to 3 feet high and is lovely when planted among ferns.
Alchemilla (Lady's Mantle)
The large leaves resembling a medieval lady's cloak are the interest of this perennial, as well as the tiny, chartreuse colored flowers. The leaves collect morning dew and it will remain there long after it's dried elsewhere. This perennial is hardy in zones 3 to 8 and likes its soil moist as well.
Another spring blooming perennial, the bergenia prefers mostly shade and well-drained moist soil. It has large, shiny leaves with clusters of small, pink or light-purple flowers. They are hardy in zones 3 to 9 and in northern areas, the leaves will turn a deep burgundy color in the fall.