is rated for shade but pops in Sun

rouge21_gw(5)June 25, 2014

aachenelf has a thread in which he is impressed with his shade plant Aruncus doing so well in lots of sun.

Maybe we could compile a list of such plants.

For example I was over at relative's home a couple of weeks back and their patch of Bergenia was huge. In the full sun location it was almost unrecognizable (due to it vigour) as compared to my much smaller much less impressive stand located in shade.

I have found similarly for Thalictrum "Splendide"...beautiful in dappled sun/shade but awesome in full sun.

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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I am constantly biting my tongue and keeping my hands off the keyboard when I read the constant advice that heucheras, astilbe, primula and the like need a shady location and will absolutely disappear in a puff of smoke if given any amount of sun. Gardening books are really no better. That's what they say too.

The only conclusion I've come to is those books were written by folks in a much more southern climate than mine, but unfortunately that advice is accepted by all (or at least by most).

I no longer have a shade bed, so all my gardening is done in 3/4 to full sunlight. My list - off the top of my head - growing in sun:


I know I'm missing a few.

Of the ones mentioned, the only one the really seems to suffer during the heat of summer are the primula. They look terrible, but never die. The next spring they're back - bigger and better than before.

I really think it has a lot to do with how far north or south you live. I'm sure any of these plants I grow in sun would disappear in a puff of smoke in Texas (and that's why I don't give gardening advice to anyone in Texas), but they sure thrive in sun here. I just wish more people in my part of the country would realize this.

I see way too many sickly, pathetic heucheras and astilbe struggling to survive in shade gardens around here. But I guess that's what people think they should look like because they've never seen one growing with more light and of course these are all commonly listed as shade plants.

In my other thread about the toxic digitalis, the online advice for growing these was a nice, shady spot in the garden. In the newscast I watched about these growing in MN the footage showed these completely covering a wide, open field in full sunlight - not a bit of shade in sight. They were spectacular.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:39PM
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I think many folks just accept what the plant tags tell them (I know I once did) rather than observe and proceed based on experience. Do I have astilbe growing in both sun and shade? You betcha. Do they thrive in both? I'll let you guess.

I don't restrict my perennials based on sun preference but on soil & moisture. I have hardy geraniums growing in part sun that are now 5 times the size they were when I planted them and literally exploding with blooms. I have hosta growing in half-day sun and Echinacea growing a few feet away. My Japanese sedge grass explodes in part sun altho' it's listed as a shade perennial.

Maybe I'm naïve but it seems to me things that nurseries say "prefer shade" behave differently planted with more sun, whether or not that's a "good" difference.

In addition to hosta, my full shade bed includes:

Brunnera/Siberian bugloss
Dicentra spectabilis/bleeding heart
Japanese painted fern
Trycirtis hirta/toad lily
Virginia bluebells
Hellebore/Lenten rose
Cimicifuga racemosa/black snakeroot
Carex morrowii/Japanese sedge grass
Alchemilla mollis/lady's mantle
Heuchera/coral bells

Just fyi, all of the above perennials are planted, growing and thriving in a part shade bed except Brunnera, Japanese painted fern, black snakeroot & bleeding heart. The only reason I haven't planted those in my part shade bed is there's no room for them.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 8:34PM
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sara82lee(8a - SE Va)

I have the opposite problem - many things that claim to be full sun can't take it here and need some shade (which I don't have much of). I think considering your zone is important.

Ironically enough, I have an endless summer hydrangea in the absolute strongest sun on my property. I wouldn't say that location would be IT'S first choice, but I've learned how to make it happy there and I like it there.

This post was edited by sara82lee on Thu, Jun 26, 14 at 19:33

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 9:29PM
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Zone, micro climate and air humidity are importsant facctors. In my region Phlox paniculata garden hybrids do ok in full sunn, if there is enough moisture. I wouldn't put them on a south facing terrace as all the stoney surface would fry them in the long run.

Aruncus dioicus grows in full sun as well around here

I grew Carex morriwii Variegata on sandy soil on the nothern side of a house. Plants with direct sunlight in the winter got brown leaves, the ones wirhout direct sunlight looked great in spring.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 12:09AM
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I think it also depends on whether it is morning sun or afternoon sun, or all day sun and whether it has enough moisture. Astilbe will not tolerate a dry full sun position nor will cimicifuga, or some hostas. I agree that there are plants that seem to do better with some sun as long as the conditions are good. Morning sun is the very best for everything.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 9:23AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I really like how some of my chartreuse hostas brighten to a strong yellow when they're in full sun, same with many of the heucheras. Blue hostas don't act the same though, they end up shriveling.
My primroses don't exactly look great in the shade either... They're summertime slackers in my opinion, not that I hold that against them since I'm not all that excited about heat and humidity myself.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 4:29PM
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Connie K

I was told astilbe can take sun here in my zone 6b, but they need lots of water. I prefer not to be a slave to watering, so plant it in the shade, where it still sometimes needs additional waterings. When selecting a site for perennials, I consider the fact that we may vacation for a week at a time, and don't want to impose on neighbors to have to water while we are gone.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 10:50AM
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GreenHearted(5a IL)

My heuchera and lady's mantle are in full sun and love it.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 4:40PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

When I read the OP, I saw Z4 and thought figures, The sun never gives you a true hit. It is always at an acute gentle angle.. I am the Texan from opposite world who will slowly ever so slowly introduce sun species to the sun, edging them timidly outwards. Most sun plants like it on the edge of trees where they get half day and they all want the morning stuff except for the true die hards like Esperanza, Texas Ranger and other desert like plants dare to tread. I don't grow anything that you guys consider a shade plant. I am not even sure if my shade counts as shade.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 11:52PM
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GreenHearted(5a IL)

We had crazy weather here last night and DH and I were watching the weather app on Roku. It showed a UV map which made me think of this thread. The sunlight is so much more intense in the southern zones! It literally made a clear picture as to why some of us can get away with pushing the sun/shade boundaries and others cannot.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 12:41PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I also have the opposite problem...

It gets hot and arid here in summer. Full sun is practically synonymous with dry. If a plant is one that requires good or even moisture it can't go in full turns to toaster strudel otherwise, lol.

Not all coral-bells are created equal. I've noticed that the greens and purples (in my local at least) seem to tolerate sun better than those that are gold. The orange/bronze types seem to vary a lot...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 1:43PM
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