Discover the Shades of Plants for you Garden:
There are various degrees of shade. Light shade means slight shade for all or most of the day; partial shade means plants are in sun for some of the day; dappled shade is blotchy shade created when the sun filters through overhead foliage. Shade can be a nightmare if your heart is set on growing summer bedding, fruit and veg, or Mediterranean plants, which need direct sun to flourish. But there are plenty of beautiful plants which thrive in shady conditions.
Many people imagine that the only way to tackle a shady patch is to turn it into a foliage garden filled with box, ivies and ferns. But too many dark greens can make a shady area look gloomy. Instead, use them for background structure and texture, then bring the area alive by making use of pale, pastel colors.
For shady places with dry or damp soil it pays to be selective – some plants thrive in these conditions. You can even find plants that suit really difficult situations such as shady watersides or areas under large trees whose roots suck all the moisture out of the ground in summer. If you have borders of moist but well-drained and humus-rich soil in light shade, you can grow choice woodland species which need exactly these conditions.
Dry shade is often caused by trees, which suck moisture out of the soil. Plants suitable for dry shade include: lords and ladies, barrenwort, cranesbill geraniums, hellebores, masterwort, Viola labradorica, sweet rocket and mourning widow.
Plants that will grow in these conditions typically suit boggy areas, at the edges of ponds and rivers. These include bleeding heart, monarda, astilbe, actaea, Solomon’s seal, toad lily, Himalayan blue poppy and heuchera.
Light, partial and dappled shade
Many popular border plants, such as campanula, stachys and golden rod, grow happily in both sun and light shade. Some plants actually prefer shady conditions. These include aquilegia, foxglove, bleeding heart, brunnera.
There are even plants suitable for growing in the darkest corner, such as butcher’s broom, Iris foetidissima, wood spurge and various spring bulbs, like snowdrops and winter aconites.
As soon as winter’s chill starts to recede, many gardeners around the country immediately start thinking about spring’s annual explosion of color. They start planning their flower and vegetable gardens so they can cultivate a glorious array of plants for a wide range of purposes.
There are several varieties of beautiful plants that thrive in shady areas. Knowing what grows well in shade and what doesn’t will enable you to make the best use of your property’s landscape.
Here are different shade-loving plants you can use to create colorful and abundant beds anywhere the sun refuses to shine
Bugbane is a beautiful, fast-growing plant (maximum height 7 ft. tall, but averages 2 to 4 ft.) that features lovely purple foliage and spikes of white flowers that bloom late summer to early autumn. The flowers do produce an off-putting odor, so these plants are best used in shady areas away from the patio. For the best looking results, plant bugbane around the edges of your shade garden. Bugbane is hardy in Zones 4 through 8.
Bugleweed comes in a range of color varieties and features foliage all season long with colorful flowering spikes that tend to spread out in wide colonies. Bugleweed plants grow about six inches in height and are hardy in Zones 3 through 9. This plant grows best in areas where the winter seasons are generally dry.
Coralbells feature colorful and dainty stalks of flowering bells in white, pink or red along with a mass of purple, silver or bronze leafy foliage. Traditional varieties of coralbells tend to grow about three feet in height but dwarf coralbell plants are also available. Dwarf coralbells top out at about one foot in height. Both the traditional and dwarf varieties of coralbell are hardy in Zones 4 to 8.
Corydalis lutea is a self-seeding plant that features fern-like foliage along with clusters of yellow flowers that continue to produce from spring to early fall. This plant is available in several subspecies and while they are all hardy in Zones 5 to 8, some varieties prefer drier soil whereas others do better in moist areas. Corydalis lutea is especially known for its ability to grow in cracks in stone walls or between hard surfaces, so it makes the ideal plant for growing in your rock wall borders.
Foamflower is a shade gardener’s favorite. With its lush, purple/green leaves and its plumes of pink or white flowers, foamflower makes for one unique addition to any shade garden. This plant is also a ground covering plant so planting a few strategically placed will give your garden a wonderful colony of blooms that can spread to cover a lot of ground. Foam flower is hardy in Zones 4 to 8 and tends to grow 12 inches high when in full bloom, which runs from spring to early summer.
Hellebores boast evergreen foliage and luscious cup-shaped flowers in a range of colors, including white, cream, pink, red and even green. Often the first plant to bloom in the garden, hellebore flowers can often start showing up before winter has left town. This species is available in a few different subspecies, which do vary in hardiness so always check the label before purchasing one of these plants to make sure it’s a good fit for your region. Hellebores prefer very rich soils that are steeped with organic matter and they typically range between one and two feet in height.
Japanese Painted Fern
Ferns always grow well in shaded areas, but few species look as beautiful as the Japanese Painted Fern. This deciduous plant can often produce fronds of various colors, including green, gray, silver, purple and red. Japanese Painted Ferns are hardy in Zones 5 to 8 and grow to heights of about 12 inches. They also prefer soil that is rich in organic matter.
Lungwort’s gorgeous foliage is green and spotted or streaked with silver accents. Its flowers bloom in early spring and this plant is available in several flower colors, including blue, white or pink. The lungwort plant popularly known as “Mrs. Bloom” actually starts out with pink bulbs that ultimately flower into a startling blue for a heavenly two-tone appearance. Hardy in Zones 5 to 8, lungwort plants typically grow to about 12 inches. When planted in warmer climates, lungwort can be used as an evergreen plant.
Masterwort’s foliage is similar to lungwort but this plant maxes out at three feet tall and produces white, pink or deep red flowers through the summer. The blooms are abundant and excellent for cutting. Masterwort is hardy in Zones 4 to 7.
Toad lily has furry green foliage and produces exotic looking purple flowers that bloom late summer through early fall. Some varieties of this plant feature white or yellow blooms, but they don’t tend to be as hardy as the purple flowering plant. Toad lily grows to about three feet in height and is generally hardy in Zones 4 through 9.
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