Deep Shade Plant List

Shade Gardening

Maybe I can get those ducks to come to my water garden!


Shaded Garden

   Shade Flowers

in the Shade




The Shaded Garden

by D.A. Brown

A properly planted, shaded garden
possesses a charm of its own, with quiet harmonies of
color that are so different in charac­ter from its
sunny counterpart and at the same time it provides a
cool refuge a retreat from summer’s glare. But limited
sun­light is often viewed with rather mixed feelings
by those endeav­oring to maintain’ a garden in shade
especially if they happen to be trying to grow plants
that will not do well there. Happily, there are many
colorful and interesting plants that will. It’s important
to have a clear understanding of the type of shade being
encountered, for there is a great deal of difference
between the heavy, almost total shadow cast by buildings
and dense evergreens and the dappled shade of deciduous

Other factors that have to be taken into account are
soil texture, whether the site is damp or dry,
and position. Thorough preparation is essential and
humus in the form of leafmold or peatmoss will benefit
both heavy and light soil and should be incorporated
during cultivation. Both may also be used as a mulch
to conserve moisture and as a protective covering
during winter. The addition of sand to heavy soil will
improve the ‘texture as will a dressing of ” lime.
However, in situations where the earth is naturally
acid or where it has been made acid by the presence
of none-bearing trees and some oaks, it is probably
wiser to grow plants that will ‘stand these conditions
than to try to change the nature of the soil by liming.

The question of location is as important
in establishing a garden in shade as it is under normal
light conditions; and it follows that a north or east
exposure will be more difficult to manage than one facing
south or west. Draft pockets, created by buildings,
etc., can also create problems, although the planting
of shelter belts of hardy trees or shrubs, or the erection
of a wall or fence will often do much to improve these
rather inhospitable situations.

When contending with deciduous trees,
advantage may be taken of the period before the leaves
become fully developed in spring to stage a grand slam
display by using spring-flowering bulbs. This is especially
sensible if you plan to be away during the summer. Tulips,
hyacinths and daffodils are amongst the easiest to grow
and most colorful. They should be planted in the fall,
and by careful selection of varieties the flowering
period can be greatly extended.

Not quite so spectacular but highly suitable
are grape hyacinths (Muscari), glory-of-the snow (Chionodoxa),
lily-of-the valley (Convalaria), and both Spanish and
English bluebells (Scilla). With the exception of tulips
and hyacinths which tend to bloom less each year, the
other bulbs may be left to flower year after year and
many will multiply some by natural bulb division and
others by seeding. The display can be continued with
summer flowering shade-tolerant annuals planted between
the bulbs or groups of bulbs, or used as a total planting
where the bulbs have been dug. Impatiens, baby-blue
eyes, (Nemophila), and flowering tobacco (Nicotiana)
may be sown where they are to flower or raised inside
and planted as soon as weather conditions permit.
Treated in this way, wax begonia, Lobelia, Torenia and
Fuchsia are highly successful. Where there is sufficient
moisture, the delicately marked leaves of Caladium will
provide color until frost.

Before planting or sowing is attempted,
the ground must be well cultivated, taking care not
to damage bulbs remaining in the ground. For those who
do not want the bother of seasonal displays, there is
a wide selection of perennials, including marry native
plants. However, the importance of providing fertile
soil plus adequate moisture cannot be overemphasized
if satisfactory, results are to be achieved.

For spring and early summer display where
shade is not too intense, the following low-growing
plants will quickly become established, and, because
of their spreading habit, make excellent groundcovers.

Carpet-bugle (Ajuga), grows rapidly in
damp situations, producing short, dark, blue flower
spikes that contrast with the low, shiny bronze foliage.


Additional Reading:

What plant to use for a Shade Garden
Shade TreesHow to Select and Care for Them

Shade Plants
per Zone




Zone 6
Zone 7

Zone 9
Zone 10
Zone 11

The book “Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials” is a requirement for anyone with a shade garden. Have you always wonder what type of shade your garden provides? The author, W. George Schmid educates you in selecting the correct plant for the type of shade your garden provides. I am proud to have this book in my reference library.

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