Most gardens have at least a few shady spots where plants sometimes struggle to thrive. These areas can become neglected by gardeners who may be tempted to throw in the trowel, cover the shady location with a few layers of decorative mulch and call it good. The key to growing plants in very shady areas is to make sure you choose plants that not only enjoy the dark side of the garden, but thrive in it.
There are many well-known and beautiful shrubs that thrive in very shady areas. Boxwood is a popular shrub for its tree-like appearance and the fact that it can be easily shaped to create a beautiful topiary. Holly bushes are also shade lovers, and the berries stand out dramatically in the shade. Box huckleberry is a ground cover that thrives in the dark places under trees. Finally, there are many types of rhododendrons, such as the "Snowlady", and hydrangeas, such as the "Fuji Waterfall," that do very well in shady areas while still producing large, vibrant blooms.
Perennials are flowers that return year after year. Perennials that grow in very shady areas are often those that grow wild in dense mountain forests where very little sunlight reaches the ground. Hostas are perhaps the most popular of these perennials. They come in a wide range of colors and shapes. Bleeding hearts, with their graceful pink blooms, are also quite popular in many shade gardens. Wild ginger and arrow-leaf ginger are common shade perennials. All types of ferns thrive in full shade, especially if the soil is moist.
Coleus is a flowering annual that thrives in shady locations. This plant comes in a wide variety of brilliant colors ranging from yellow to purple. Begonias also tolerate full shade, especially perpetual or wax begonias. Impatients will thrive and even spread rapidly in shady gardens. Coral bells is a shade-loving annual for most growing zones but can also overwinter in warmer clients.