Lamium, or spotted deadnettle, is a perennial plant with silvery-green foliage and late spring flowers in shades of lavender, pink, purple and white. It quickly covers a shady spot with a spreading mat of stems and leaves. Additionally, astilbes are perennials that feature fern-like foliage and blooming plumes of color. Hybrid varieties range from miniatures to those reaching several feet high, with pastel bloom colors. Best planted in areas of dappled shade, astilbes require sufficient moisture and highly organic soil.
Hosta plants are attractive perennial additions to the shade garden, with single-color and variegated leaves ranging from deep blue-green to chartreuse and white. Sizes vary widely, as does bloom time and fragrance, with bloom colors of lavender, purple and white.
Bleeding hearts are one of the spring season's earliest blooming perennials for a shady spot. Bluish-green foliage first emerges, followed by pink and white heart-shaped flowers on arched and nodding stems.
Annuals for a shady location include the fancy-leaved coleus, available in varieties featuring variegated foliage in chartreuse, black, red, pink and deep purple shades, along with shapes that are ruffled, serrated and lance-like. A popular flowering shady annual is the impatiens, with never-ending bloom in a rainbow of colors from spring through fall. Other impatiens varieties include the New Guinea impatiens, which have larger blooms, and double impatiens, featuring flowers with multiple petals that resemble little roses.