Answer: Here are a few of my favorites for shade:
Columbine Hinckleyana - Aquilegia chrysantha var. Hinkleyana; Shade loving perennial blooms in May. Beautiful yellow blossoms with a real tropical look. Looks great planted with ferns or Turks Cap. Evergreen foliage has a blue green tint. Columbines will cross pollinate and are good re-seeders. Plant several to get a colony going. Height:12"-36" Soil: Moist Well Drained.
Coral Bells- Heuchera sanguinea; Blooms in late spring with multitudes of tubular coral flowers carried on tall spikes above the foliage. Evergreen plant makes a low neat mound of dark green foliage. Attractive foliage makes a good border plant even when not in bloom. Also fine in rock gardens. Shade; Height: 18" Soil: Moist Well Drained.
Hellebore ?Lenten Rose?- Helleborus orientalis; Attractive leathery foliage on a compact well behaved plant. Graceful nodding flowers of pink to purple in early to mid spring. Long-lived plants for sheltered moist rockeries and well drained woodsy beds. Light: Shade Height: 8"-10".
Penstemon ?Gulf Coast? or ?Brazos?- Pentstemon tenuis; Blooms pale pink in spring and sometimes in fall. Will perform well in poorly drained soil as well as sandy loan. Semi-evergreen in winter. Light: Sun/Shade Height:18".
Sage Lyre Leaf- Salvia lyrata ?Lyre Leaf? sage reaches 8" when in bloom in spring, otherwise it is a ground hugging perennial. Blooms are light lavender atop green and purple foliage. Can be used as a ground cover and will grow under trees. Will withstand light foot traffic. Light: Sun/Shade Height: 8"-10" Soil: Well Drained.
Spiderwort- Tradescantia spp.; Beautiful blue-green foliage and bright purple, white, pink or blue flowers in spring and summer if watered well. Can be used in shade or sun. May go dormant in summer. Height:18" Soil: Moist Well Drained.
Turk's Cap- Malvaviscus arboreus drummondii Bright green foliage great for lighting up shady areas. Blooms red hearts May to November. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Will take any soil and any light. Height:2'-4'.
Violet Native Wood-Viola missouriensis; Beautiful creamy violet blooms appear in early spring and continue through spring. Dark green leaves make great ground cover under trees. Propagate by division and by re-seeding. Light: Shade Height: 2"-6" Soil: Moist Well Drained.
Wood Sorrel, Pink or White- Oxalis crassipes Old favorite low-growing edging plant, forming a low mound. Dainty pink or white flowers bloom all spring and summer. Clover-like leaves emanating from a cluster of bulbs. Leaves are even attractive in themselves. Blooms in sun or light shade. Very dependable. Height: 10"-12" Soil: Moist Well Drained.
Yellow Archangel- Lamiastrum galeobdolon; Fast growing groundcover with lovely silver variegated leaves and yellow flowers in spring. Excellent for lighting up shadyareas as a groundcover or trailer in pots. Height: 8"-12" Soil: Moist Well Drained.
Leopard Plant? Farfugium japonica var. ?Auro-maculata?Large, glossy-green circular leaves splashed with yellow. Autumn brings yellow daisy-like flowers on tall spikes. A great plantfor damp, shady places. Height: 18"-24".
Candytuft- Iberis sempervirens; A hardy, low-growing, evergreen plant that is covered with small white flowers February to April. Good in planters, borders, foundation plantings, and rock gardens. Height:6-12? Soil: Well Drained.
Hosta?Royal Standard? - Hosta plantanginea One of the finest Hostas. This vigorous Hosta hybrid has shiny leaves and white fragrant flowers. Makes an impressive large clump. Blooms: Spring-Summer Light: Part Shade/Shade Height: 20? Soil: Moist Well Drained.
Japanese Climbing Fern- Lygodium japonicum Perennial climbing vine. Needs support to climb on. Adds a wonderful lacey texture. Vigorous grower. Light: Part Shade/Shade Height: 10? Soil: Moist Well Drained Violet?Royal Robe? - Viola odorata Sweetly fragrant flowers of deep violet blue in bloom February to May. They grow best in partial shade. Plants are less than six inches high. Can also be used for a ground cover. Very hardy. Soil: Moist Well Drained.
Japanese Painted Fern- Athyrium nipponicum Pictum; Beautiful multicolored fern for shady areas of garden. Likes rich soil with plenty of organic matter. In spring silvery purple fronds emerge and last to first frost. Divide mature clumps every 4 to 5 years. Height: 12-15? Soil: Moist Well Drained.
For bright color spots you might also grow annuals such as impatiens, lobelia, pansies and primroses.
Best wishes with your patio garden!
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