In almost every garden, you will find at least one area that is in the shade. It could be under a beautiful tree in a very prominent part of the garden or in a distant corner that does not attract much attention. Sometimes you can increase the light by cutting high branches or reducing the height of the hedges, but this may not always be the case.
Depending on the position of your front yard and backyard with respect to your home, there will be areas that will be in the shade of the house or garage for most of the day. You may not be able to do much to change the situation. Other immutable shadow areas occur between the house and garage or near the garden wall or fence that separates your property from your neighbor's.
It is a challenge to keep shaded areas attractive in the garden. Painting the blank walls can help illuminate spaces in permanent shadow, but that does not solve the problem. You have to choose the right plants to animate the area.
Use nature for inspiration where every corner and corner is full of rich vegetation. What grows on the densely shaded forest floors and on the edges of forests would be happy to grow in your shade garden. Here is a good selection of perennial plants that love shade to beautify problem areas.
1. Astilbe – USDA zones 3-9
Being one of the easiest perennials for shade, Astilbe is the first option to add color to a shady place. With its bright foliage, similar to fern, the plant provides interest throughout the year, except in winter. But the heads of flowers similar to the tufts that are held high in the foliage are real plugs. The spikes of the flowers give common names to astilbe, like the false spirit and the beard of the false goat.
The color options are mainly found in the pink spectrum, but it also has white and red flowers. The heads of the flowers last several weeks and can be cut to obtain a beautiful arrangement to decorate your table.
Astilbes They are usually grown from divisions that are sown in spring or summer in rich, humid soils. Keep divisions evenly moist. These plants need a light crop after all the flowers are spent. This will keep the plant clean until fall and until the leaves begin to turn yellow as winter approaches.
2. Bergenia – USDA Zones 4-10
These low-growing plants in Central Asia have large, bright green leaves that remain green or show red autumn colors, usually in colder regions. They are ideal for shade gardens, especially as borders or to grow under trees. The flowers are small and bell-shaped, but they appear in groups that are supported on the foliage in stems of 1 foot of length. Roses and purples are the usual flower colors, but you can also find almost white and ruby red varieties.
You can grow bergenia from divisions taken after they finish blooming. Older plants begin to become extinct in the center, so you know when it is time to divide your existing stock. These plants need a rich and moist soil to thrive. They do it best in partial shade, but the sun can burn the leaves, so give them shade if they are planted under deciduous trees that shed their leaves completely.
3. Black Cohosh / Black Snakeroot – USDA Zones 3-8
This native forest plant that prefers shade and moist soil has attractive, deeply cut leaves similar to astilbes. Blurred white spikes appear in summer and stay well above foliage. The flowers can have an unpleasant smell, which gives this plant its common name, bugbane.
This plant can be grown from seeds, but divisions are usually used. Plant them in spring in partial shade and keep the soil moist. The plants form groups, and can grow from 3 feet to 6 feet in height, so choose the cultivars and location carefully.
4. Columbines – USDA zones 3-8
The bell-shaped flowers of aquilegia make this plant a beautiful addition to any garden. These small leaf plants are excellent companions for other plants with large leaves in the shade garden, such as hostas. The flowers appear from late spring to early summer, each with 5 petals and five sepals. The contrasting and complementary colors of petals and sepals make combinations of interesting colors. They are the favorites of bees and the hummingbirds.
You can grow columbines from seeds sown in spring. These short-lived perennial plants decrease after 3 to 4 years, although self-planting generally maintains their established stands for several years. But it helps to collect some seeds every year to plant in the fall or spring. Plants can grow 3 feet tall, but dwarf varieties remain below 6 inches.
5. The goat's beard. USDA zones 3-8
Goat beard It is a perennial astilbe plant that loves the cold and humid conditions of shady forested areas. If you have a large area to illuminate, the huge, creamy spikes of white flowers on the goat's beard will do exactly that. Going out in great profusion in the early and mid-summer, they are excellent as cut flowers and can be dried for bouquets of eternal flowers. The dark green leaves of the goat's beard are lace, and the plant has a dense habit.
You can grow this plant from seeds or divisions planted in spring or fall. It self-seeding under favorable conditions. As each group can grow between 3 feet and 5 feet tall, as well as the width, the planting site should be chosen carefully. Male plants are preferred for their dense, astilbe-like feathers. The female feathers are thin and hanging.
6. Lily of the valley – USDA Zones 2 to 9
Lily of the valley It is grown in shaded gardens for its fragrant bell-shaped flowers that appear in spring. They are perfect for the shaded area under the trees, where they will extend between the roots, filling all the space in time. Plants have a clean habit and never grow above 1 foot in height, so you do not have to do any pruning to keep it under control.
The lily of the valley is grown from underground stems called nuggets. You can collect the seeds at any time after the spring flowering period ends, but they are ideally divided and sown in the fall when the plant is dormant. Handle the seeds carefully, as they are poisonous to people and pets, just like any other part of the plant. Provide sufficient moisture to the young plants by covering them with a layer of mulch.
7. Japanese forest grass – USDA Zones 5-9
Japanese forest grass is a perennial herb with a fluid habit, ideal for gardens with shade. There are different shapes with varied leaves, some even with an attractive autumnal coloring. The bright yellow foliage of the golden variety can brighten even the deepest tone. The narrow foliage contrasts with the shade plants of large leaves like the hosta.
This herb can be easily propagated by dividing mature groups. Unearth an older plant in spring and divide it into 2-3 portions. This can be done in the fall too. Plant each division, giving it a lot of space to spread. The Japanese forest grass is made for shade. In fact, plants suffer when exposed to sunlight, and the tips of the leaves turn brown. So give them a dark, damp place that looks a lot like their natural habitat. This herb can be trimmed to its crown from time to time to control its size and spread.
The Japanese forest grass is ideal for, but it can be cultivated in zone 4 with some additional protection and large amount of mulch.
8. Coral bells. USDA zones 3-9
These North American natives are true evergreen perennials, keeping their leaves even under cover of snow. The original plants have green foliage, but now you can get many different varieties, wearing colorful and varied leaves. The flowers are small, but the highly branched inflorescence is quite impressive, and makes good cut flowers.
Coral bells It can be grown from seeds, but it is a process that consumes time and gives uncertain results. It is better to prepare elaborate plants that you can plant in the garden in spring. Divide older plants in spring to prevent them from becoming extinct in the center. Flowers periodically to keep the plant in good health. Coral bells behave equally well in sunny places and in the shade.
9. Hosta – USDA zones 3-9
No shade garden can be without hosta. These beautiful foliage plants come in a variety of large leaves that attract attention and form a carpet to remove weeds on the ground. The light requirement of different cultivars varies, but in general, those with lighter leaves and variety require relatively more sunlight than the dark green varieties.
The hostas can be divided into spring, summer and autumn. Summer divisions should be well watered to prevent them from drying out. Fall divisions must get enough time, at least, 4 weeks to establish themselves before the ground freezes. The planting site must be well prepared with plenty of humus and prolonged-release fertilizers before planting.
The hostas need your attention. They are prone to the attack of deer and slugs, as they find their leaves soft and fleshy delicious. Too much water, especially during the dormant season, can cause crown rot that can be devastating.
10. Pachysandra – USDA Zones 4-7
Pachysandra is a hard cover to ignore for shaded areas, especially because it thrives on acid soils that are usually found under trees. Thick, expanding growth literally drowns out all other competitions, so you'll have a weed-free patch where pachysandra is established. The small flowers that appear in the spring may not be very showy, but they have a lovely fragrance to compensate for this.
Pachysandra can spread from divisions, or you can get floors in the garden center when you want to cover large areas. Plant them 1 foot away to allow their propagation. Keep the shaded area and the soil moist until the new plants are well established.
11. Pulmonaria – USDA Zones 4-8
If you want a plant with interest in both flowers and foliage for your shaded areas, the low-growing pulmonary would be the answer. The leaves are quite decorative, with spots of color. The flowers are small but come in clusters of bright pinks, purples and blues. Varieties of white flowers are also available.
You can grow them from seeds or divisions of underground rhizomes. Place them in a shady place with other shade lovers as hostas to add a splash of color. Each plant will have an extension of 1 to 1 ½ feet, therefore, space them accordingly. Keep the soil moist with regular watering.
Another problem that can be found in the garden, especially in the most remote areas, is the dry shade. Light and water are the two most important factors for the growth of plants, so when both are denied, plants find it extremely difficult. Fortunately, we have some plants that can survive such inhospitable conditions.
12. Lamium – USDA Zones 4-8
Commonly called Deadnettle This perennial herbaceous plant forms a delicious vegetable cover in shaded areas, illuminating dark corners with its silvery foliage. The pink and purple flowers are an added advantage. Some varieties also have white flowers. With a growth of no more than 6 to 8 inches in height, the plants form a clean mat on the ground, under the trees and around large bushes.
You can choose from a wide selection of flower and foliage combinations. Keep young plants regularly watered. Older plants can withstand occasional droughts, but water stress causes the edges of the leaves to turn brown.
13. Lilyturf – USDA zones from 5 to 10.
Lilyturf is another perennial with long and narrow arched leaves. It is famous for being easy to grow and maintain, and it is a good edge and cover for shaded and dry areas in the garden. You can get solid green lilyturf, as well as varied varieties. The flowers that come in white and blue are quite small and discreet, but some varieties have colorful flowers that create good effects in massive plantations.
Lilyturf is spread by divisions of the group. It is ideally done in spring in colder regions, but divisions can be made at any time of the year in warmer areas. Regular watering is appreciated at first, but it can withstand drought and dry heat to a large extent once the groups are established.
14. Japanese yellow rose USDA Zones 4-9
Is bush shade lover With bright yellow flowers it deserves to be more popular despite its non-native status. It is a relative of roses devoid of thorns, as well as the uproar of roses, which makes it ideal for low maintenance landscapes.
The bush blooms profusely throughout the summer, even in the deep shade. You get plants that have single-layered flowers that resemble old-fashioned roses, while double-layered flowers look like chrysanthemums. The bright green serrated leaves and green branches look good even when there are no flowers. There are also varied varieties.
Kerria seems to prefer the poor land and thrives when it is neglected, an advantage for those who do not have a green thumb! An occasional hard pruning helps keep the bush in good shape and promotes flowering.
15. Vinca – USDA Zone 4-9
Vincas mainly come in two forms: Vinca mayor Y Vinca minor, the old one adapting well to sunny places and warm climates. It is a perennial plant in USDA zones 7-10, but is treated as an annual year in cooler areas. Vinca minor, commonly called dwarf periwinkle, on the other hand, prefers shade. Both types are tolerant to drought once they are established, but flowering can be affected in dry conditions. However, the dwarf periwinkle is an excellent soil cover for dry shade, forming a thick mat that discourages other weeds.
To make a fast ground cover in a shady place, plant Vinca minor in spring. Place the plants 12 inches apart to allow their habit of propagation, but can be considered a closer plantation to obtain good results. They need regular irrigation initially to establish themselves, but then they can take care of their own affairs. Occasional shear will keep plants under control.
As you can see, there is no limit to the amount of beautiful plants that love the shade you can use to decorate even the most difficult places in your garden.
Reference: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/15-beautiful-perennials-that-grow-in-the-shade/, by Susan Patterson
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