Shade plants

redguelph(5a)March 17, 2013

I live in Ontario, Canada and, am looking for advice on what to plant under an oak tree.
I have planted daffodils and crocus for the early spring but as the leaves grow in it is shaded for 95% of the day. I would like something that catches the eye if possible. Are there any flowering plants that would work?
Although I have tended houseplants for years, I am relatively new to outdoor gardening.
Any help would be much appreciated.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

95% shade is a lot...

but shade.. in words only.. means little.. how bright is it under there????

hosta come to mind.. and some of the more native wildflowers ... but they all need some level of light to thrive ... nothing grows in a cave ...

in fact.. if you have a local hosta club.. join it.. if not for the hosta.. but when they offer garden tours.. to see how those peeps deal with gardening in shade ...

i know there is a windsor club.. but offhand i cant recall where guelph is ...

and as a rule.. the bigger the flower.. the more sun it takes.. to generate the energy to make that giant flower.. e.g. roses/dahlia.. etc ... you will note.. as names come in.. many are small flowered.. perhaps a lot of mini flowers for impact.. but individually .. smaller flowered ....


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Garden in southern Ontario too, but don't have to contend with excessive shade.

I'd think of ephemerals, like anenomes. Find Anenome ranunculoides vigourous, but tidy. Love the colour of A. nemorosa 'Robinsoniana', not as compact in flower, but very attractive.

Wonder whether the oak tree habit of holding onto dead leaves could limit the light coming through in spring.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:13PM
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Happily, under oaks it isn't quite as rooty and dry as under some other types of trees. Many of the plants for shade are primarily foliage plants, with varied leaf color, texture and size creating long season interest, with flowers being the cherry on top.

There is currently a thread on Epimediums, a great plant for dry shade (see link below.) The columbines discussed in the same thread should well in the area also.

There are several bugbanes (Actea AKA Cimicifuga) with dark red leaves and tall wands of bottle brush flowers in late summer that are stunning.

Many of the hostas that Ken mentioned have really nice flowers ranging from white through deep purple in color in addition to the ornamental foliage.

There is a form of variegated Pachysandra that works well as a ground cover. Lamium does well in full shade and also can be used as a ground cover.

There is a variegated Solomon's Seal that is lovely.

Some other plants I grow in shade include:
crested iris (short, blue or white flowers in spring)
Heuchera AKA coral bells
Heucherella AKA foamy bells
Tiarella AKA foamy bells
Hakonechloa AKA Hakone grass or Japanese forest grass comes in green and white stripes, chartreuse gold among other colors and contrasts nicely with some of the other leaf forms
Carex, such as Ice Dance, is another grass-like plant. There are many varieties, and several have interesting foliage.

That will give you something to start with.

Here is a link that might be useful: Epimedium thread

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:25PM
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I love lamium in the shade, very pretty and once the initial thrush of bloom you will still get flowers sporadically for quite awhile. Variegated hostas give "light" to an otherwise dark area. Annabelle Hydrangea are fun and spectacular in bloom. Though your options are not quite as plentiful, they low water usage make up for it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 4:49PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Trillium, forget- me-nots, foxglove, Jacob's Ladder, ferns, Virginia Bluebells...that's all that comes right to mind as far as perennials. Coleus are annual, but can add lots of color and are easy to propagate and overwinter as cuttings. Beware any yellow lamium. There is a thug that I have in my recently purchased home that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I can't remember the name, but just be careful.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 5:50PM
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Thanks for all of the feedback! You've all given me lots of ideas and a place to start from, with more options than I thought I would get.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:39PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I believe you're thinking of yellow archangel Lamium galeobdolon. That one is very invasive, however the variety "Hermann's Pride plays nicely with other plants. I've had it for 20 years, it forms a tidy clump and only moves when I decide to divide it and move it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:08PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Yellow archangel is Lamiastrum, not Lamium. The yellow Lamium I have is 'Beedham's white, and is lovely and not agressive.

Other plants for shade not mentioned include: Pulmonaria, Arums, various primroses, Big root Geranium, Grasses Chasmanthium latifolium and Calamgrostis brachytricha, and Brunnera. Still only a partial list.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 5:58AM
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Aquilegia (columbine) aruncus, brunnera, dicentra, hellebores, woodland phlox, tricyrtis, violets, rodgersia, mertensia (virginia bluebells), trilliums, ferns, as well as all those listed above, and more.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:27PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

You're right laceyvail,my bad, though I have seen some sites use the names interchangeably, not that that's an excuse.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:33PM
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