Shady areas in a garden provide cool relief during hot summer days, but they can also present a problem for the gardener who loves flowering plants. While there are some flowering plants that will grow in the shade, most are annuals and need extra care in order to bloom in dim light. Instead, plant colorful, perennial foliage plants in dark areas. Not only are most foliage plants quite hardy, but they will brighten up the dimly lit corners of your garden with interesting textures and colors.
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia congestifolia) thrives in full shade and is an excellent ground cover for around trees. This yellowish-green foliage plant needs very little light and has attractively patterned leaves. It is also a great plant for hanging pots that are shaded on a porch, as it is a trailing plant.
The Waffle Plant (Hemigraphis repanda) features striking two-color leaves that are burgundy on top and a deep red on the underside. The leaves are very glossy, making them stand out even better in shady areas. They do well in dim light but prefer warm growing zones. Many gardeners plant them in pots and bring them indoors for the winter, where they will thrive even in the darker corners of a room.
Ferns are notorious for being able to grow in very little light, and their gorgeously patterned foliage adds a lot of beauty to any garden. There are hundreds of species of ferns, some of which can spread quite rapidly or grow quite large. Some of the more popular shade ferns include the Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum), whose blue-green fronds trail down delicately to the soil, and the hardy Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), whose fronds were used to make wreaths in the south during the civil war. Both of these ferns are evergreen and will provide your low light areas with year-round color.
Like Creeping Jenny, English Ivy (Hedera helix) is often used as ground cover around trees or in hanging pots. The plant prefers deep shade and has attractive, deep green, heart-shaped leaves. English Ivy climbs well, which makes it ideal for covering an unattractive, shady wall, stump, or other object. The plant can also be planted on a hillside to control erosion.