plants for afternoon sun only ...

terratoma(7a)August 6, 2013

it's been my limited experience that most plants can be 'categorized' by their needed sun exposure: shade (or near shade) lovers; plants that need morning sun but require protection from the sun in the afternoon; and, full day sun lovers.
I've got a situation that I haven't experienced before: a site that gets afternoon sun only. This doesn't really fit into the categories listed above. Any ideas for perennials that would thrive in this type of sun exposure?
Will appreciate any and all advice/suggestions.

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I have a similar situation under a locus tree in the south side of the house, where it get all morning shade and several hours of afternoon sun starting from ~1:30 pm. You are right. It is a tough spot. Too much shade for sun loving plants, and too much sun for shade plants. After several years of experiments, I found the following working well for me. Of course my afternoon sun is probably less intense than yours

Sedum Autumn Joy
Coreosis (Zegreb)
balloon flower platycodon (love this one. Have 4 of them in this garden for the last 8 years and do not need to divide)
Fire witch dianthus
Sun tolerant hostas (Sagae, Majesty, June, Stained Glass, Regal Splendor)
Various Heucheras (mostly the purple and peach colored ones as these are more sun tolerant)
Endless hydrangeas (I would not recommend this one unless you have an irrigation system)

Good luck

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 11:01PM
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I have several beds which face west and get very hot afternoon sun. There are no trees which shade the area, so there is light during the morning but no direct light.

In these beds I have planted so far:
Coreopsis Moonbeam
Lavender Provence and Anouk
Gaura Pink Cloud, Ballerina and Whirling Butterflies
Penstemon pinifolius and Dark Towers
Honeysuckle Goldflame
Buddleia Petite Snow White
Sedum Neon
Echinacea White Swan
Briza Media
Salvia Blue Hill and Marcus
Agastache - unnamed, but with light purple flowers
Verbena Homestead Purple

These were planted this summer, and so far seem to be doing well. It takes a fair amount of watering because the heat dries out the beds in no time.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 11:14PM
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Ornamental grasses would really shine in that situation. Nothing else picks up the afternoon sun like that. Mexican Feather Grass would be good or some of the Pennisetum grasses along with

Salvia Greggii
Russian Sage (if its enough hours 6 to 8)
Some yellow mixed in for variety

I pulled this photo online to illustrate.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 3:04PM
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Here is another showing that afternoon light. Mexican Feather Grass blooms in spring and has that blonde top all season.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 3:07PM
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GreatPlains-your Mexican feather grass is beautiful. So billowy and soft looking!

I have a bed that gets no morning sun, but then is blasted with afternoon sun from about 1:30 until 5:00. In it I have:

Coreopsis 'Sienna Sunset'
Hosta 'Sunny Delight'
Heuchera 'Blackout'

I realize the hosta and heuchera are odd choices, but those two can take all day sun as long as they're watered properly.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 3:38PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

Greatplains, what a gorgeous photo, That grass is spectacular.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 4:33PM
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I can't take credit for the photos, I got them on Google but I have plenty of it growing, it glows and is always softly swaying. This grass is so easy and it will take as much heat and sun as you want to give it or part shade. Its hardy in your zone. It reseeds a bit generously but they are easy to pull or transplant because it makes good filler and matures quickly. It will not take being too wet.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 5:08PM
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Another hosta that thrives in quite a bit of sun is 'Gold Standard.' I also have Heuchera/coral bells 'Palace Purple' growing in half-day sun along with the following:

Tricyrtis hirta/toad lily
Astilbe/false spirea
Penstemon/beardtongue 'Husker Red'
Carex/Japanese sedge grass 'Ice Dance'
Alchemilla mollis/Lady's mantle
Polemonium/Jacob's ladder
Persicaria virginiana/Virginia knotweed

Granted I'm a zone cooler than you so some of what's listed may or may not tolerate your soil, sun & moisture conditions. Most years all of them thrive for me in organic sandy loam with very little supplemental water.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. It's encouraging to hear from gardeners who have had positive experiences with these plants. I failed to mention that the morning shade is created by the lower limbs of a dogwood tree beneath which I have what I consider a nice collection of thriving hostas. So on the west side of the tree (the area getting afternoon sun only) I'll want to select from your suggestions plants that are short enough not to "blot out' the hostas from view. Also, are any of the suggested plants 'see through' plants? I've heard that there are some such plants that are "thin" enough that they don't prevent seeing the plants (in my case, the hostas) behind them. Is any of this making sense?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 9:49PM
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A nice low sedum is "Dazzle Berry". It is getting ready to bloom now. It should do OK with afternoon sun and is short enough to see over ;-)


    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 10:50PM
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These are plants that work for me:

Sedum - ALL of them - 'Lime Zinger' is the best!
Sempervivum - most of them
Delosperma - The Jewel of Desert series especially
Hydrangea 'Vanilla Strawberry'
Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 11:25PM
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'Dazzle Berry' looks good! (My only experience with sedums is with the old standard 'Autumn Joy' which grew too tall for my purpose.) From the pic, yours appears to be the height I need.
echinaceamaniac: In the past, my different varieties of Heucheras burned badly from afternoon sun. Are there specific varieties that are more tolerant?
As far as the echinaceas, I haven't come across 'Cheyenne Spirit' (too new for it to be available anywhere in our area) but I found a nice variety of coneflowers at a nearby nursery. They were thriving, good size and 50% off. Can't beat that combination!!
It's been years since I grew coneflowers ... back when 'Magnus' and 'White Swan' were the only choices for typical gardeners like me. I was truly blown away with what I saw at the nursery ... creamy yellow, various shapes of pink, the reds, oranges and the reddish-oranges. I bought some of each and am going back for more. 'Kim's Knee High' is the shortest one they had. Are you aware of any shorter varieties?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:30PM
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Pow Wow Echinaceas are short too. It should be cheaper because it's a seed variety.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Sedum Dazzle Berry is about 6" tall for me. It gets direct sun from 8am to about 3pm. Your afternoon sun, although a shorter period, is probably a more intense light, so I assume it's a similar situation.

Another shorter echinacea in the Sombrero series, "Red Salsa" has grown about 18" in my garden. I kept the flowers and buds removed the first year (last year). I had read that was important for the plant to get established to remove buds the first year planted. Fingers crossed it will continue to do OK. It is shown on the left in the photo.

Also, in the same echinacea Sombrero line, I have "Tomato Soup" and it doesn't look nearly as nice. (It is a few inches taller) Maybe it's just the color of it that I don't care for...

In the pic, "Carl" the sedum to the right, has grown to about 12" tall for me. I planted it in morning sun last year, it flopped and it did not do as well. So this Spring I moved it into more direct sun, from noon until sundown, and it appears to like that situation.

hth, good luck in your quest,

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 2:53PM
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terratoma - "Is any of this making sense?" Sure it is; we're gardeners too. Odds are some of us have asked the same question.

For height/habit + leaf contrast, toad lily grows tall (3+ ft. in my zone) but is taller than it is wide--it grows mostly upright which I've found makes it ideal to grow between my hostas. It blooms late as well which was another advantage in both my shade as well as part-sun beds.

Astilbe has fern-like foliage that is an attractive contrast to the bold foliage of hostas.

Alchemilla mollis/Lady's mantle has attractive, velvety-textured foliage that's rounded--raindrops tend to accumulate along the edges of the leaves.

Aquilegia/columbine - delicate, scallop-edged foliage with dainty, early-season blooms that normally come along before the hostas have fully emerged.

Chelone/turtlehead - bold, late-season blooms that actually look like a turtle's head + attract pollinators.

Polemonium/Jacob's ladder - delicate & pretty blue flowers in Spring + fern-like foliage

Persicaria virginiana/Virginia knotweed - heart-shaped variegated foliage right through until frost, with each leaf sporting mottled green & white with a contrasting burgundy chevron. Very unique.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 8:34PM
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Hi all.
Sorry for the absence ... have been putting in a butterfly and hummingbird garden the last several days. But I've also managed to pick up some plants for this 'afternoon sun only' area, thanks to your many recommendations. They include 'Peach Flambe' heuchera, colubine, astilbe and gaura. Not sure whether I'll have quite the amount of sun for the gaura to survive but it's certainly worth the chance. Along with the astilbe, it will provide me with some 'see through' plants I am after. I'd really love to use Brazilian verbena (the epitome of 'see throughs') because I've read they are butterfly 'magnets' but,again, they may need more sun.
Deb, that 'Dazzle Berry' is still eluding me ... can't find it anywhere around here. Ditto for the 'Red Salsa' Echinacea ... nowhere to be found. And I love that true red cone!!
Again, thanks to everyone for your patience, helpful suggestions and, most of all, willingness to share

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 12:02PM
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