All gardens have dark corners, and there is no better way to brighten those corners up then to plant some shade-loving bedding plants. Bedding plants can be perennials, but they are most often annuals (plants that bloom for only one season). Bedding plants are usually planted to add seasonal splashes of color amongst shrubs or perennials and in the shadier areas of a landscape.
Impatiens are the top-selling bedding plant in America, according to Dr. Leonard Perry, a professor at the University of Vermont. There are several varieties, some of which are dwarf, growing only 6 inches tall, and others that can grow to a height of 3 feet. Impatiens come in 15 different single colors, three two-toned colors, and five colors that feature a white star in the middle of the flower. Impatiens thrive in cool, shady areas and will bloom all summer long if the soil is kept moist.
Lobelia (Lobelia erinus) is often used in containers, as it has a beautiful draping habit. The plant is very low growing, reaching a maximum height of only 3-4 inches, and features delicate white, blue or purple flowers. It is beautiful as an edging plant or in baskets, especially if they are hanging on a shady porch.
Begonias (Begonia semperflorens-cultorum) have waxy-looking, dark green or bronze leaves and bright pink, red or white flowers. They grow equally well in containers or in the ground as long as the soil is kept cool and moist. Some varieties can tolerate a few hours of sunlight, but morning sun is best or the leaves can get scorched.
Coleus (Coleus hybridus) plants are grown for their brightly colored, variegated foliage rather than their insignificant flowers. The plant thrives under other plants and will quickly grow to cover unsightly ground. Coleus does well in moist but not soggy soil. While coleus can be exposed to sunlight, the light can fade the colors in the leaves, which appear much brighter in the shade anyway.
Torenia (Torenia fournieri), which is sometimes called the wishbone flower, is a fragile perennial that is usually just grown as an annual, as it does not overwinter very well. The plant thrives in partial shade and moist, well-draining soil. Torenia is a fast-spreading ground cover and features white or blue flowers. It is an excellent choice if you want to add a splash of blue to your shade garden.