recommended plants for heavy, heavy shade in Zone 7
This winter, I'm working on developing a large new planting area in my yard, which is always an exciting experience. It's trickier than usual, though, because the bed begins on the north side of the house, and then extends into a thickly wooded area full of large maple, sweetgum, and tulip poplar trees. Needless to say, the one thing this whole area shares is very, very deep shade, especially in the summer. Obviously, these conditions greatly limit the range of ornamental plants I can grow there, and that's okay. I'm comfortable with it being a low-key, woodsy area. I am trying to compile a checklist of plants that will grow and thrive around here in heavy shade. I'm not talking about plants that will merely survive, but truly prosper in the darkness. I don't want azaleas or camellias or hydrangeas that will languish and not flower from lack of sun. Many ferns of course will qualify, although I've actually found that unfortunately some of the showiest ferns for our area like Autumn Ferns and Painted Ferns really need at least a little direct sunshine to look their best. So, here's my list of other plants--woodies and robust perennials--that I've found will really do well in such heavy shade:
Anise Shrubs - Illicium spp.
Aucuba - Aucuba japonica
Cast-Iron Plant - Aspidistra elatior
English Ivy - Hedera helix
Florida Leucothoe - Agarista populifolia
Japanese Aralia - Fatsia japonica
Mahonia - Mahonia spp.
Marlberry - Ardisia japonica
Monkey Grass - Liriope spp.
Poet's Laurel - Danae racemosa
Sacred Lily - Rohdea japonica
Sweetbox - Sarcococca confusa or ruscifolia
I would love to hear whatever suggestions anybody might have for additions to this list, they would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!