When growing plants that have minimal access to water and sunlight, it's best to select from those varieties that are known to be versatile and hardy. Some of the most suitable plants for dry shade include perennials. These hardy plants include such varieties as geraniums and dogwood shrubs or bushes. The aloe vera also is an excellent choice for a dry shade plant.
Perennials work well in dry shade because they are generally long lived. Geraniums are very tolerant of drought conditions and do well in the shade. One especially versatile variety is known as the cranesbill geranium. Carolina allspice and witch hazel shrubs are suitable plants for dry shade, as well as useful herbs. The southern bush honeysuckle also does well in dry shaded gardens.
The alchemilla mollis, otherwise known as the lady's mantle is one of the better plants for dry shade. The leaves of this plant are a dark olive green color and tend to be hairy. These plants will also do well in direct sunlight, making them a versatile variety.
A type of evergreen plant — also a perennial — is called a bergenia. This plant will do well in shaded areas and with minimal water. The leaves of this plant have a shiny texture and may often be found in bright colors, such as violet or deep purple.
The north American Christmas fern is another excellent choice when considering plants for dry shade. The proper name of this variety is the polystichum acrostichoides. These plants are in the evergreen family, and most are dark green with no flowers. It is common for these plants to grow taller than 24 inches (61 cm) tall.
One plant often used as a medicinal herb is the symphytum grandiflora, often referred to as comfrey. This evergreen perennial, which only grows to about 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) is able to thrive in low light or shaded conditions. It also does well without a lot of watering.
For those planting a shade garden, the toad lily is another good choice. Toad lilies are hardy varieties that tolerate drought conditions well. These plants also produce pretty purplish flowers that bloom in mid to late August and early September.
The Labrador violet is another type is a perennial plant that adapts well to shaded areas. The greenish-purple leaves grow in heart-shaped clusters, with flowers usually appearing in the months of May through July. The total height of this robust semi-evergreen plant is typically about 6 inches (15 cm).
Other good choices to grow in shaded areas are the western sword fern and the soft shield fern. While nearly all ferns are hardy enough to grow in low light and arid conditions, these two are some of the more appealing varieties for a garden. Many varieties of fern are versatile enough to thrive in home gardens as well as in deep wooded areas of the wild.