Just because you have mostly shade in your yard, it doesn’t mean you can’t have colorful plants that bloom in this environment. Most of the shade plants have very interesting foliage that ranges in color from lime to deep blue green and by mixing these plants, you create a very pleasing landscape even when they are not in bloom.
Hostas are the first plant you think of when planting in shade and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Hostas are easy to grow and they spread as they age, so after 3-4 years, you will need to divide them and plant the divisions to increase your hosta plantings. They bloom around mid-June with bell-like flowers on tall spikes and most bloom in white, lavender or pink. Sizes range from mini to mammoth. Hostas leaves disappear in winter and poke up out of the soil again in spring. Plant with evergreens to hide the bare spots while they are dormant.
Another great, large plant for shade is Ligularia. These plants need plenty of water and will wilt in the middle of a very hot day, but they will recover if they have enough moisture. Water deeply and keep the soil moist. Sizes range from 2-6 feet high and 2-4 feet wide. Flowers petals are spikey and yellow-orange on most varieties. Leaves range from light green to burgundy.
Astilbe grows very quickly and produces a flower that looks like a feather duster with their tall fluffy plumes. Plume colors range from white to dark purple and create a mass of color at bloom time when planted together. Different varieties bloom at different times, so if you vary them, you can have bloom most of the season. They produce the best blooms when allowed a couple hours of sun in the morning. The dried plumes create winter interest if left on the plant.
For a great ground cover in shade, try Lamium. It spreads quickly and doesn’t need much water after it gets established. The mostly white leaves are bordered in green and it stays green all winter. This plant flowers periodically over the season with soft salmon-pink flowers. Stems will root where they touch the ground and a new plant will form which can be dug up and planted elsewhere. Trim it back in late winter and divide in spring for new plants. Grows in full or part shade.