Tallish plant for bright shade? Drawing a blank

linnea56(z5 IL)April 30, 2014

I could use suggestions for this spot. I am looking for a medium to tall perennial, 18 to 30 inches tall, for bright shade. This area gets shade from an overhanging pine tree in the morning, and house shade in the afternoon. If it receives any direct sun, it's only for an hour or two, that would be from maybe 11 am to 1. I just moved some perennials out ( Salvia Caradonna and iris) that have not been blooming well due to the lack of sun, but that leaves me with a hole to fill.

Something taller than wide would be best: I need something more vertical in that spot.

I am drawing a blank for what might fill this niche. Everything I can think of with the right height needs more sun. Or are only tall when they bloom, like anemones.

Most colors would work, just not bright yellow or orange. Nearby are wine and dark red daylilies and true lilies. It would be a plus if the new plants would look good with those colors. Thanks for your suggestions!

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I am fascinated by Black Cohosh, Cimifuga racemosa. I can't grow it, and really know nothing about it other that in grows in Part shade in compost moist soil up north somewhere a long ways from Central Texas. I would grow it if I could. It might be TOO tall for your needs. It gets pretty tall when it blooms its vertical flower stalks..

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:09PM
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Hosta (look for the words large,upright,vase shaped, Astilbe, MeadowRue, Cimifuga, Solomon Seal.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:12PM
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Foliage plants:
Cimicifuga has several deep red-purple leafed selections, with either white or pink bottle brush flowers in late fall.

Solomon's seal has several variegated varieties as well as green. Both of these enlarge their clumps slowly in my garden.

Leucosceptrum japonicum doesn't have particularly ornamental flowers, but 'gold angel' has chartreuse to gold foliage and 'silver angel' has a silvery coating over the green leaves.

Some meadow rues AKA Thalictrum will do well in shade, but some will flop, so check the varieties' needs.

I would try to choose a plant with foliage color, size, and/or texture that is different from what you already have there so that when most things aren't blooming there is still interest in the area.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:40PM
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Aconitum aka monkshood - tall, dark purple flowers, partial shade, likes moist soils. I grew the plain species, aconitum napellus, when I lived in the Midwest so it is reliably cold hardy.

I also grew ligularia, rodgersia, astilbe, dicentra eximia and cimicifuga in the same bed. I still miss the lushness of shade plants.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:49PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Cimicifuga: I have 3 called âÂÂBrunetteâÂÂ, I think, on the other side of the house. I do like the dark leaves, and their texture. Mine have not bloomed in years: though that maybe because they get NO direct sunlight where they are now, at all. I feel like I canâÂÂt rely on them for bloom. Will they bloom with more light, like I described above? It is definitely brighter in this new area.

That makes me think of the fancy dark leaved sambucus. Also an interesting leaf and color, though probably too shrubby for here, unless there is a very dwarf variety. .

Chartreuse to gold foliage would also be really good in this spotâ¦a color echo for the gold spirea shrubs I have on the opposite side of the bed.

I have a lot of hostas and astilbe there already, so would like something different . Need more height too.

Thanks for the ideas!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 12:40AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Can you use a biennial? I'm pretty sure Lunaria would bloom there.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 1:42AM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

There are a number of hostas that would work and the foliage would make a nice contrast with your daylilies.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 6:12AM
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I like the tall Mexican petunia variety, especially with the mass effect of them being in bloom. While they may like more sun for best growth, I've had them in bright shade and they did fine also.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 12:17PM
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How about gold flame bleeding heart? Really brightens up a shady spot.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 4:25PM
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rbrady(5/Eastern Ia)

How about Polygonatum commutatum-Giant Solomon's Seal? It has some height, would favor your conditions, and also the leaf shape is different than the other plants in the area (Hosta, Astillbe).


    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 5:56PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Astrantias, some of these are taller than others, depends on the variety.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 6:26PM
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michey1st_gw Zone 7

How about Sweet Joe Pye weed (eupatorium purpureum)? It's the shade-loving cousin to the behemoth everyone knows, plus it's native. Grows to around 3 feet tall.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:46PM
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Foxgloves (a biennial, but reseeds),, valeriana officinalis (considered invasive in some places, as is foxglove), monkshood (aconitum), cimifugia (noted above), and the gorgeous thalitrums. I think vernonia (ironweed) will put up with some shade, as long as it has moisture. It is my impression, too, that some spiky veronicas will bloom in half shade. Another beauty is Gillena trifoliata, "fawn's breath" -- it is medium to tallish. If you like fragrance the annual nicotiana "marshmallow" is tallish and has a heavenly fragrance. If you have enough moisture -- and space, cinnamon ferns are beautiful.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 9:33PM
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I have two Cimicifuga racemosa/black snakeroot plants growing in my full shade bed and both produce foot-long, very tall wands of white bottle brush flowers late in the season. Both plants are well established. Once the flowers bloom, the bees are on them constantly.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 10:58AM
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My Cimicifuga racemosa are also 'Brunette' I think, and every year they bloom in a very similar situation to yours: a bit of midday sun only since it is sandwiched between pines 25' to the south, a building immediately to the north, and lilacs on the east and west end of the bed blocking any early or late day sun.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 1:18PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Any ferns could work.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:07PM
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gracie01(z5 IL)

Goatsbeard; Mine get about 3 feet tall now.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:48PM
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I second those who've reccommended Solomon's Seal. The blooms don't last long, but the plant itself is very decorative. Mine also turns bright yellow in the Fall just before it fades. Very handsome stuff. Give it lots of room and keep new plants watered during dry spells.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:04PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Disporum 'Night Heron'...

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:14PM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)


I had some clematis that I grew on trellises in morning sun only. They didn't get huge in the 4 years I had them, but they did flower. I had Comtesse de Buchard (lavender) and Pink Flamingo (cream and pink bells). There was a purple too, but I forget which it was.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:52PM
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