Your landscape’s shady areas can offer beauty and tranquility using perennial plants with colorful leaves, flowers and interesting textures. Add a bench for sitting or paths to enjoy walking through the area. Keep in mind that shade areas differ; for example, you may have complete shade under a full canopy of trees. However, your shady areas may also receive partial sun when light comes under the tree branches or filters through tree leaves during the day.
Of the over 350 species of lobelia, a few are hardy perennials that provide your shady landscapes with flowers in white, red or purple. The red cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is one of your best choices. Growing naturally in forests, these plants prefer moist soil and some sun during the day for maximum blooms. This flowering plant grows as a native across the United States, except in the Northwest. Lobelia cardinalis reaches 2 to 3 feet tall and blooms from mid-summer through fall. Be aware that all parts of Lobelia cardinalis are poisonous.
An excellent ground cover for shady areas, Ajuga reptans offers blue, violet or white flower spikes from spring through early summer. The plants have leaf rosettes with interesting colors, when not in bloom. The Ajuga reptans prefers moist, well-drained soil with high organic content. Also called bugleweed, Ajuga reptans will live successfully in USDA hardiness zones 3–9. These plants spread naturally or may be propagated by division. Some gardeners consider Ajuga to be an invasive plant.
Purple oxalis, or Oxalis triangularis, enjoys shade in USDA hardiness zones 6 and above, although it grows more commonly in southern shade gardens. Also called False Shamrock, the plant has wine-colored, clover-shaped leaves and white blossoms. A closely related variety of oxalis offers green leaves and pink blossoms. Oxalis grows in 1-foot tall mounds with spreads around 18 inches. This plant prefers indirect or filtered sun and slightly moist, but not soggy, soil. To propagate, dig the plant and gently pull apart its tuberous roots, then replant. Oxalis will also spread and may require borders or removal from undesirable areas.