What to plant in cold dry shade????

jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)May 17, 2014

I want a flower bed outside my office window, One that I can enjoy when I need a break from working at my desk. The problem is that it's on the north side of my house. With trees starting about 25 out, I would like the flower bed on the edge of the trees. SO it's dry, and shady, in the summer our sump pump drains out there, with our seepage in the basement, and laundry water.
I do have a bleeding heart in that area, but it's been there many years, and is still small.

SO I need plants zone 3 hardy, that like clay soil, dry, and shady...........not asking much am I!

Anyone have any suggestions?

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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Hostas, some ferns, Lily of the Valley (though it is horribly invasive and impossible to get rid of), violets, daffodils. That's what I can think of off the top of my head.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 7:04PM
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I guarantee that Geranium macrorrhizum will flourish in your location. There are some that give pink flowers others white..

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 7:39PM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

Thank you for the suggestions, I should have mentioned that due to a large deer population, I can't grow hosta's. It's like begging the deer to come munch in my garden!

Lily of the valley........I planted some from a neighbor back there, about 15 years ago, it spread now to about 3' in diameter. I don't know if it's the cold, the dry, the soil or the shade, but it certainly is not invasive back there.

Same story with ferns.and I love ferns!.....I think it's to dry or to shady, because I have planted all kinds, and today I think 2 maybe 3 have survived, and certainly not spread.

Other things I have tried and given up on, are the huecheras, they just heave themselves out of the ground every year, and even with replanting don't do much.

Hmm Geranium Macrorrhizum is an option......I have some in another bed out front, they have seeded and I was just thinking today that I need to dig some out. I was going to give it away, but I might have to save them for the back.

I do have of all things a clematis on a little trellis, and every year it surprises me with some of the earliest blooms of the year. Maybe I should just put in some more trellis, and plant more of that same variety. But the bloom time is short, and it would be nice to have more to look at later in the year.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:41PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if you are there.. working in your office .. why is it dry ... take breaks.. and water it ...

the option in regard to plants... will increase significantly ...

and.. all transplants.. will need water.. before they become established and then become drought tolerant ...

of which.. hosta are not really ...


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:37AM
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Christmas ferns would do well, also epimedium, hellebores, polygonatum, heucheras, geranium phaeum, corydalis lutea, corydalis cheilanthifolius, euphoribia robbiae, and for color, just stick in some annuals. People always want lots of color in shade...it just aint possible
btw...brrrrrrrr zone3

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:12PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Epimediums and Hellebores, Polygonatum, here too. I don't have deer, so I don't know if they eat these. But Epimedium do better in dry shade than anything I know.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:57PM
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Campanula UK Z8

hesperus matronalis, lunaria, various campanulas, geranium sanguineum, gillia trifoliata, saxifrage fortunei, dark leaved heucheras, kirengoshoma palmatum, hellebores,

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 1:56AM
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For me the champion for dry shade (grown under two river birches with extremely dense surface roots) is the geranium macrorrhizum followed by canadian wild ginger (asarum canadense). and epimedium grandiflorum All are unattractive to deer or rabbit. Unfortunately only the ginger is listed as hardy to zone3, the others appear to top out at zone 4.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 6:04PM
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But Epimedium do better in dry shade than anything I know.

I did a bit of an experiment last summer. I planted 2 Geranium macrorrhizum and 2 epimediums in a most inhospitable location ie within inches of a water, nutrient sucking maple.

As of this spring the Geraniums are more than holding their own while the epimediums did not return (the open areas between the Geraniums).

This post was edited by rouge21 on Tue, May 20, 14 at 10:18

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 7:00PM
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