Which plants for shade

v1rtu0s1ty(5a)May 28, 2013

I have an area at the back where it's being shaded by Lilac, Viburnum and Birch trees. Maybe it gets an hour of sun.

I really would like to make that inner corner nice, something that would wow me. The corner is big but for now, maybe I will only use 100 sqft.

Which would you recommend? I don't like to rely just on flowers. Maybe if you can suggest some pattern combinations, color contrasts, etc, that would be awesome!

I'll take a picture tomorrow.



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Forgot to say that I currently have hosta there. I planted 3 of them last year or two but this morning, I only saw 1.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 11:29PM
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Heuchera and geraniums should work. Other interesting "green" leafed plants would be pulmonaria and brunnera. Astilbe would work but they don't flower that long. Some bleeding hearts bloom longer than the original Dicentra. There are tons of hostas with different colored leaves and variegated - and all different sizes. If you google Shade Garden Plans you might find some pre-planned garden combos to give you ideas.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 8:03AM
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Hi Neil,

In addition to many designer hosta varieties*, these are growing in my full shade garden:

Polemonium/Jacob's Ladder
Heuchera/coral bells
Alchemilla molllis/Lady's Mantle
Japanese painted fern
Actea/black snakeroot
Toad lily
Carex 'Ice Dance'/Japanese sedge
Bleeding heart
Mertensia virginiana/Virginia bluebells (an ephemeral)

*Hosta in the bed to the right in the photo below include Dream Weaver, Krossa Regal, Revolution, Mistress of the Seas, Patriot, Revolution, & Frances Williams. To the left of the walkway are hydrangea & hardy geranium growing in part sun.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 10:52AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I agree re brunnera - particularly 'Jack Frost' - being a stand-out in shade. One combination that I'm developing that is an eye-catcher is 'Jack Frost' brunnera with 'El Nino' hosta and 'Branford Beauty,' a silvery fern. This picture is from last June so the fern and hosta are pretty small as they were planted only a month or so earlier. Other elements important in that picture is the Persicaria polymorpha (which blooms white a few weeks after this picture - it blooms less well in the shade under the pines but still blooms well enough to include it there...) and the variegated dogwood tree in the background.

This picture taken from the living room window in early September only catches the brunnera but you can see how silver - and the white of the variegation on the Emerald Gaiety euonymus on the other side of the path past the brunnera catch your eyes.

For shade, white or silver in flowers or foliage have a big impact while also projecting a cool and serene feel. If your birch trees are ones with silvery/white trunks, adding silver and white on the ground layer too would definitely look great.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 11:13AM
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Awesome! Sorry I've been so busy preparing for an interview. :)
I saw the plants you recommended above at a nursery. They're beautiful. The person brought me to their shade section. I saw my Lady's Mantle. :D I will include it during my planning. I also think I need to amend the dirt. Looks like it's not healthy. I was wondering why Anabelle, Turtle Heads and 2 hosta didn't make it.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 4:02AM
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dominoswrath(5 WI)

Lady's mantle and Astilbe like moist, not dry soil and won't perform well without adequate moisture. Bleeding hearts will also diminish without adequate moisture. Something to consider.

If hosta and annabelle didn't survive,which are pretty much foolproof for me, I'd agree with your decision to amend the soil before adding more plants and I can't help but wonder if it's also due to lack of moisture. I have rich soil, but have to water regularly around my lilac shrub since the soil tends to dry out faster. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 2:48PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Ooh, gardenweed, you enabler you! What's the gorgeous hosta at the lower right of the photo? I think I see the Frances Williams, then "below" her is the Revolution, (or is it Patriot? always mix those up) and then the next one, with the big leaves that are green with the white variegation down the middle? And is that the same hosta near the top of the photo as well, above Frances?



    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 5:40PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I have dark shade....Hosta, Ferns, Heuchlera, Jack Frost' brunnera, A calla Lily that I keep in a pot and bring it in every Fall. It sits in a corner until Spring.

You cannot beat the yellow and blue hostas for color.

I always add a little hardscape to add interest.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 9:05PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Marquest: How much shade do you give that calla when it is outdoors? I have always wondered if they could bloom nicely in mostly shade...but the tags always ask for at least morning sun.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 9:46PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

It gets about 2 hours of sun in the Spring. As the tree fills in it only get bright light at the edge of the garden.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Marquest, Gorgeous!!! Send me those plants please! :) hehehe

I'll copy your design. Thanks for sharing!

I have Solomon's seal, hostas and heuchera. The solomon's seal gets light from 8am til 1pm. It's doing very well. The heuchera, I'm not sure if it's getting any light. It's under a crabapple tree, north side of the main trunk.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 10:10PM
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diggerdee -- THANKS!! That hosta is 'Dream Weaver' which I bought from O'Brien Hosta in Granby, CT many years ago. It's more of a blue/green hosta with that cream center--simply spectacular and irresistible IMO. When I first moved here I made a foray in O'Brien's Hosta garden and bought some designer hostas to replace the conical evergreen shrubs that once graced the front foundation beds. I've never regretted that decision. 'Dream Weaver' is also featured as part of the bed on the full-shade edge of my property along a concrete walkway that spans the north side of my property.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 10:54PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Marquest - What's the perennial in the bottom right corner of your 4th pic? Looks like it's in a red pot and look like leaves similar to a geranium, but look at those colors! Is it a heuchera that I don't know about? Can't quite make it out!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 4:27PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

funnthsun LOL no it is a geranium for the pots on my patio. It rolled over while I was taking the pic for v1rtu0s1ty so she could see the colors in the shade garden. It is not part of that garden. Sorry for the confusion.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 6:07PM
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