What to Plant on the North Side of My House

wanttogarden(USDA 9b, Sunset 15, N. Calif.)February 10, 2011

This is my challenge area. The north side. It does not get sun except for 3 months of year for 2-4 hours a day in afternoons. Right now I have two hydrangeas. They are fine, but I can not afford the water bill for them. What can I replace them with? They does not have to be roses although preferred.



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jerijen(Zone 10)

Mite-resistant fuchsias?


    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 12:15AM
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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

Hostas, Rhododendron, Azaleas, ferns, astilbe, dicentra, or Impatiens.
Go to Drip Works and get a drip irrigation kit to use less water.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drip irrigation kits at Drip Works.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 12:20AM
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wanttogarden(USDA 9b, Sunset 15, N. Calif.)

Thanks Jeri. I will look into them, although based on fuchsias I am growing in other parts of the yard, they are too small/ don't get too big. I may be wrong.

Karl: From all the ones you mentioned, I only can grow Rhododendron, Azaleas, and Impatiens, its too hot and dry for the rest. Impatiens, are too small; kind of looking for a bush/shrub. Rhododendron, Azaleas don't re bloom. However, they may be my only option at the end.

The yard is on drip; Roses/shrubs one system, shade plants another. I do not want to water every shade plant everyday, just because of these two hydrangeas.
Do polyantha's grow here?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 12:42AM
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dimitrig(SoCal z10a/21)

I have the same problem here with lots of shade.

In my climate I have hydrangeas, azaleas, camellias, begonias, ferns, heuchera, jasmine (Arabian, star, pink, and night blooming), cyclamen, jade plant, Japanese maples, coleus, calla lilies, impatiens, elephant ears, plecanthrus, moonflower, and gardenias. Fuschias can grow very large (6-7 feet+), but only in cooler climates.

Sounds like flowers are important to you and you prefer reblooming. That's a tall order. I definitely wouldn't go with roses without much sun.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 4:25AM
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Encore Azaleas rebloom--but--they need 4 to 6 hours of sun--won't do what you want in the shade. Nor will any rose.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 6:22AM
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Have you looked at the shady garden nursery's website?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 1:02PM
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Why I would stick with camellias of course. You could have a whole row. Maybe a gardenia or two as well. You're in a good zone for both and they are both drought tolerant as well.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 2:03PM
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>It does not get sun except for 3 months of year for 2-4 hours a day in afternoons.

Avoid rhododendrons and azaleas. They can make do with scanty dappled sunlight but if they're totally in the shade for 9 months of the year, they won't do as well as what you would like/expect. (August and later into the fall is mainly when they're asking for sunlight to help them make the bloom buds that will open in the spring.) Plus, if watering is a problem, they won't do at all; they're not deep-rooted and don't survive droughts at all without plenty of water. There are reblooming azaleas and a few rhododendrons will have a few fall blooms, but they won't work well without regular rainfall/watering and some sunlight. Camellias won't survive the first year without good regular watering either, but after that they can survive a drought much, much better than rhododendrons and azaleas.

Depending on the height you are wishing for, camellia varieties Shishigashira and Bonanza, either one or both, would make nice plants for that spot. They are sold with the sasanqua camellias (but are really hiemalis). Shishigashira can for sure do well and bloom well with less than an ideal amount of dappled or direct sunlight.

I have read a post by someone who had some success growing a Madame Alfred Carriere up the wall on the north side of a house. The rose didn't bloom much at all until it got to the sunlight of the roof area but then it did okay. The trick would be in getting the rose to the upper areas of the wall where it could get some sunlight, but maybe in your situation your 3 months of the year would give enough sunlight to allow the rose to get there. There are some other shade-tolerant climbers that might work that way, mostly Noisettes (like Cato's Cluster or Champney's Pink Cluster).

But camellias would be close to a sure thing, and they'd look good there too, even when not blooming. You might try a combination of the two--a shade-tolerant rose with some evergreen camellias for variety in foliage size, color, and texture. The polyantha rose Eutin with its red blooms might work to the left of the window and you could pull some canes down to parallel the window bottom too; Liz Druitt credits Eutin with a good bit of shade tolerance. Some (but not all) of the hybrid musks also have good shade tolerance and can climb; red Skyrocket (aka Wilhelm), Will Scarlet, or Nur Mahal might work there. One Shishigashira centered under the window with a climbing shade-tolerant rose planted on each side might look nice and might also work with your sun situation (might work--I certainly wouldn't say that with any certainty). Eutin might have a better chance at blooming heavily in the months when you have some direct sunlight there than would the hybrid musks. And once established, Eutin would survive a drought. But survival is not the same as blooming; you'd still have to water it well for it to bloom well when you weren't getting good rainfall.

Shishigashira is small enough that there would still be room for a few rose canes pegged beneath the window behind it. Shishigashira in front of a rose pegged below a window would stay really short for a long, long, long time. Our Shishigashira that is maybe 25 years old now is wide but still under 2' tall, though it has been grown in almost no direct sunlight and might have grown faster under ideal conditions. It has been a heavy bloomer in spite of its slow growth. (Once-blooming only, but the bloom period lasts a long time each fall.)

It would be interesting to see how this turns out with whatever you decide to plant! I hope you'll post some pictures!

Best wishes,

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 6:28PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)


    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 11:18PM
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I have a dark/dry North side to our 3 story house. One thing that has thrived there (with no additional water) is star jasmine. I would recommend giving it something to climb on. Then you can prune it to keep it the size you want. Every Spring it perfumes the entire yard. The rest of the year it stays green.

Also, for lower growing plants in dark shade I have had a lot of success with hellebores. They start blooming here in Jan, and continue thru March. They are an attractive low green mound the rest of the year. They need some water, but not nearly as much as hydrangeas. They used to be expensive, but now you can get them from catalogs for about $5 per plant.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 12:36PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Clivia, Camellia...Hellebores are a good idea and alternative to the standard Clivia recommendation. You get wonderful little umbrella-like flowers to float in a bowl, and they reseed rather modestly, so you have new plants to share or add to other places. Star Jasmine on a trellis also a good idea--very fragrant blooms in spring, and the trellis would give you some height. Azaleas dry out really quickly and may be okay, but more water needed.

Rhodies don't grow well here--they need a winter chill of some sort.

Just too shady for roses. There are a lot of other wonderful non-rose plants out there--explore! :)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 12:39PM
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amandahugg(SS19 CA)

There are actually some succulents that do well in dry shade. Look at the Aeoniums for great structure and color. There's one called Cyclops that is so cool.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 6:38PM
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dimitrig(SoCal z10a/21)

Yeah, my girlfriend planted an aeonium in partial shade. I did not think it would do well, but it has doubled in size.

Also, helleborus was a good suggestion. I do indeed have some of these doing very well in full shade. In my climate, they are in full bloom at the moment along with the camellias. Azaleas will bloom a little later. I love clivias, but they are expensive.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 9:38PM
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