Plants for Shady Areas
Shrubs That Grow in Shade
Do you have areas in your landscaping shaded enough that sun-loving shrubs just don't do well for you there? The shrubs that grow in shade that I discuss here will shed some light on alternatives for you. My selections were made with variety in mind, so a mix of flowering and evergreen types is provided.
Vines for Shade
Are you scratching your head trying to come up with a vine that will grow well in shade? You're not alone, especially if what you want is a flowering vine. Here are some vine choices to mull over for that problematic shady spot.
Best Perennials for Shade
Don't be ashamed of your shade: instead, work with it! The trick for beginners is to select plants suited to challenging shady conditions. To that end, I put together a list of a variety of great perennials that grow in shade.
Hostas are among our most familiar shade plants. Pronounced the top hosta of 1997, 'Patriot' hasn't declined a wit in popularity since. It is a mid-sized, variegated type. This article will tell you what you need to know to grow it successfully.
Plants for Shady Areas With Dry Soil
Are you burdened by an area in your landscape that is subjected to the double whammy of too little water and too little light? Do not despair! Here I list some plants that perform reasonably well in shade gardens with dry soil. You actually have a decent variety from which to choose: plants valued for their foliage or flowers, tall specimens or ground covers.
Top-Flight Candidates for Shade Gardens
In landscaping (as in other areas of life), there is good stubbornness and bad stubbornness. The good kind is when you reach down for a little extra to get your chores done. The bad kind is when you insist on growing a plant more suited to a sunny area in a shade garden. Don't fight your conditions; work with them. Here are some examples for shade.
What are woodland gardens? They can be defined in a number of ways; but what they are, most importantly (for some), are time savers. Low-care almost by definition, these shade gardens can be a great choice for those who enjoy growing plants in the yard but do not have a lot of time for taking care of them.
Climbing Hydrangea Vines
"What vines can I grow in a shade garden?" I get that question all the time, shady areas being one of the greatest challenges in landscaping. It is especially difficult to find shade-tolerant vines for northern climates that put on a good flowering display. One nice solution is climbing hydrangea vines.
No shade garden in zones 3-9 should be without bleeding heart. The romantic blooms are most spectacular on the aptly named Dicentra spectabilis , but foliage holds up better on Dicentra eximia . I encounter a relative, Dicentra cucullaria , in a shady area on my favorite spring walk on the Appalachian Trail, spilling down a wooded slope.
Hosta: Staple for Shade Gardens
Do you trim the flowers off of your hosta plants? Some people do, some don't; still others say, "It depends on the hosta." Whichever camp you fall into, you know that there are some great plants for shady areas among the hostas. Other hostas "break the rules" and enjoy sun. Hosta leaves can be blue, green, gold or bicolored.
Dogwoods are among the best-loved flowering trees of spring and also furnish fall color. Being understory trees by nature, dogwoods are suited to shady areas -- more specifically, they like dappled light. This article deals with both the Japanese type (Cornus kousa) and the "flowering dogwoods" (Cornus florida).
Lilyturf (Liriope Spicata)
With some qualification, we can term lilyturf (Liriope spicata) an "ornamental grass" for shady areas (including spots with dry soil). The qualification is that the "lily" part of its common name is more accurate than the "turf" part. But its grass-like nature is highlighted by those who use the common name "border grass."
Yew bushes get no respect. I guess it's a case of familiarity breeding contempt, as these shrubs are very widely used in landscaping. That's not by accident: as evergreen shrubs that tolerate low-light conditions, they provide landscapers with flexibility. One shady area where yews are often a logical choice: the north side of a building.
Spotted Dead Nettles
Spotted dead nettle is one of those options for dry-shade gardens I mentioned above. This ground cover (specifically, the 'White Nancy' cultivar) is one of the first perennials I experimented with in shady areas when I became interested in landscaping years ago. While it does blossom, I value it more for its silver leaves.
Yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) belongs to the same genus as spotted dead nettle and joins its companion in liking shady areas. But it provides brighter flower color to light up dark areas; as its primary common name suggests, bloom color is yellow. It is, however, invasive in some regions.
Some people grow Jack-in-the-pulpit because it is an odd-ball. Others choose this resident of woodlands as a reliable perennial for the shade garden. For still others, both factors come into play. Use it to introduce your kids to the wonderful world of botanical names by helping them distinguish the "Jack" from the "pulpit."
Fringed Bleeding Hearts
Fringed bleeding heart plants (Dicentra eximia) produce fern-like leaves and strings of romantically shaped flowers. As pointed out above, there's a reason why Dicentra spectabilis has its fans. But the type of gardener who values reliability over flashiness flocks to Dicentra eximia for its more persistent foliage.
'Halcyon' is one of the blue hostas, valued for its color and its textured leaves. Learn how to grow it here, along with other facts (such as the meaning of all those funny words that hosta people use to describe leaf texture).