Bromeliads just love to hide out in the shadows and provide year-round splendour with their multicoloured foliage and striking blooms. Flowering when mature, the blooms can last for many months, before the plant produces pups, which can then be transplanted.
Variegated mondo grass (Ophiopogon ‘Stripey White’) lightens up dark areas, with dazzling green-and-white strappy foliage that exhibits stronger variegation depending on the level of shade. Mondo grass is also available in green and black, as well as dwarf forms, and is ideal as edging.
Ctenanthe have large elongated leaves, which add contrast and colour in a shady space. Ctenanthe ‘Grey Star’ is a great choice, featuring striking silvery grey and purple foliage. It also grows well indoors.
Japanese shield ferns (Polystichum retrorsopaleaceum) grow to 50cm high and 50cm wide. They have a lovely mounded shape and brilliant lime-green foliage. Ideal as understory plants, ferns are suitable for pots or garden beds in low-light situations, and are tolerant of damp conditions, too.
Heucheras are wonderful low-growing foliage plants. Reaching only about 30cm in height, they come in a wide variety of leaf colours and patterns to bring a splash of bold colour to shaded or half-shaded positions. ‘Silver Scrolls’ (right) has silver-and-green variegated leaves.