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Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Shady Border

Shade is often one area of the garden that gives gardeners the most trouble. I would like to take some time today to share some great suggestions for plantings in a shaded area.

For the purpose of this post, shade will be described as an area of your garden that gets some morning or evening sun.   I have used photos that are not mine...they are from a book...and I am sorry, but I can't credit you if I don't know where the photo came you see YOUR photo in my post...please message me and I will happily edit my writing to include you deserve the credit!
Now...back to the best stuff...

The first thing you will need to do is to chose your area. When choosing your location, try to avoid making a bed under very large trees, as their roots often use up too much water. Building a raised bed under a tree can, at times, cause the tree to become distressed. When extra soil is added, the roots will be unable to breathe and the tree could suffer and eventually die.

Prepare your area by loosening /digging the soil up to a depth of about two feet. This will help you in removing all perennial weeds and their roots and make mixing in compost, manure or peat moss easier. (For more information on building a new flower bed...see this post…Building a new flower bed from scratch)
Once you have prepared your soil it is time to plan the plantings! (For more information about soil preparation/amendment see this post …Making Dirt Into Soil) Set out your plants and move them around until you find their most attractive spots and are showing their best side. You may also want to soak the plants in water before you plant them. This will cut down on some of the root shock. Keep in mind that it is best to plant any shrubs in early spring or fall to give them time to establish a healthy root system.

Now that you have planned out your garden still in their is time you start to plant it. Carefully knock the plant out of it's container and scarify the root ball a little bit. (you should check to see if the tag says not to scarify...some plants will not like it, but most will...)

SCARIFY: The act of roughing up the root ball a little to loosen the roots as to stimulate healthy growth.

Place the new plants into their respective spaces and stand back to be sure they are perfect to you. Water the new additions in using a fertilizer or plant food of your choice. This will help reduce root and plant shock and will also encourage new growth.

Need a list of possible shade lovers?

Lets begin with a few perennials:
I will describe all the plants in the above photo ( oh how I wish this was in my garden)

Height: 3-15 ft.
Spread: 6-10 ft.
Beautiful blue or pink or white flower heads in the summer...Most are zones 6-9...but for us Canadians, Pee Gee Hydrangea is very tough ...can handle our -40 winters!

Height: 1-3 ft
Spread: 3-4 ft
White or lilac flowers, but this plant is most often used for it's impressive foliage...there are many different variations of Hosta to choose from. And they are hardy to our cold Canadian winters too!

Height: 6-12 in
Spread: 2-3 ft
Flowers early in the summer, is an excellent ground cover, but will need to be protected over the suited for zones 4-8.

Height: 2-4 ft
Spread: 6-8 in
This plant prefers sin, but will tolerate some light shade. Orange, red or gold flowers will appear in late summer. Protect in winter in cooler suited for zones 5-8.

Rosa Rugosa
Height: 3-6 ft
Spread: 3-6 ft
This hardy plant blooms pink in the fall. Will grow in Canada! zones 2-8.

Height: 15in
Spread: 24 in
Small purple flowers will appear in the spring with this ground cover. Very hardy plant...zones 2-8!

Height: 4ft
Spread: 2 ft
This is a pretty orange flowering plant that will bloom late in the summer in zones 4-9.

Smoke Tree
Height: 15 ft
Spread: 15 ft
This is called a deciduous or evergreen plant. Ball shaped flowers will appear late in the summer. Not hardy at all...zones 5-9

Height: 30 in-5 ft
Spread: 1-2 ft
Pink spikes appear in the summer, is self seeding and is a biennial.. I have some here that is hardy...but most only live in zones 4-10. (I am a zone 3)

Did you know there are different types of shade? Here are a couple of plant choices for them:


This plant features round greenish yellow flower heads in the spring...gets about 3ft and is only a perennial in zones 7-10....would be an annual in my area!!

Gladwin Iris
Tall fast growing plants with bright pink berries in the fall...sounds interesting...Gets to about 5 ft and is hardy to zones 5-7. I once made an entire hedge out of these along a pathway.

I love the name of this plant. It is also known by a less glamorous name - Anemone. It sports cub shaped blue, pink or white flowers in the spring. I have some that need to be protected but is safe in zones 5-8. Will be about 5ft.

Fringecups (Tellima)
Small bell shaped creamy white flowers will appear on this plant in late spring. It will be about 18 inches and will grow as a perennial in zones 4-9


White pink or burgundy plumes show themselves in summer months. Will grow between 1-4 ft tall. Can be grown as a perennial in zone 3 if placed in a sheltered area and protected in the winter, but is best grown in zones 4-8

Royal Fern.Beautiful bronze plumes on dark green leaves...very tender plant. Will only grow in zones 7-9 and will be about 1-3 feet tall.

Pink or red flowers will appear in the spring and the leaves of this plant will be red - green. It will grow to about 18 inches. Very pretty and is hardy for zones 3-8. Finally one for the Canadian girls!

Marsh Marigold (buttercup)
This plant will be about 24 inches tall and will sport yellow buttercup type flowers in the summer months. Will also grow in zones 3-8


Spotted Laurel
This is a shrubby plant with evergreen foliage that will produce red berries in the fall. Will grow to about 8 feet and is best grown in zones 5-9

(see dry shade)

Bears Breeches
Tall spikes with white and purple flowers in the summer make this plant a great addition. It will grow to about 4 ft. Good for zones 8-10

Globe Thistle
This plant will show blue globes of spiky flowers in the summer months. Will be about 2-3 ft tall. Zones 3-10

Now should you want to have some annuals in the mix...there are many that I grow in my own shade beds...I even have some full sun plants that do quite well it there!

Lobelia crystal palace
Lobelia (hanging )
Forget me not
Snap Dragon
Dusty Miller
My shade is not deep and my beds get about 4 hours of sun each day...(for complete plant descriptions of the annuals, including photos of each...see this post: 5/22/08 called What Makes my Gardens Tick? Plant Directory.)

Now this is my shade garden a few days has since been weeded and has already changed quite a bit....(thank goodness for warm weather) also...please excuse the mess you see in both of these shots...HEY...I am only one girl!
You all now know all that I know about shade gardening!

Until next time….Happy gardening!

*)*)*) People inspire you or they drain you. Pick them wisely, and watch how you treat others!

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original posting 7/9/08


Unknown said...

Great information! Thanks for providing all this.

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Country French Antiques said...

WOW! Your a walking plant encyclopedia!!
Thanks so much for all this info. I can sure use it as my yard is almost all shade and a million hosta's, but short on variety.
Thanks again. I'll try some of your other suggestions.
Have a great day!

Picket said...

Yahoo! I'm Here for class my pen and paper & I am all ears...or all eyes..this is a blog..well actually I am starting to be all hips what with all the fig newtons & tomatoe sandwiches...oh..sorry..your right..focus..focus! Man what a lot of great info..thanks for that extra link for me to go to...#1 we cut ours back every year..but Bill did get alittle happy with the clippers this time...#2 yes we had a late little frost...mine is under the drip of the house...gets morning sun and there is a small Japanese Red Maple planted in front of it...just to keep the morning sun from being too severe..hope that little bugger isn't causing any problems for my hydrangea..but I believe it was because of the 2 reasons above because otherwise it is a gorgeous bush right now..ohhh happy day..thanks girl...I can look forward to next year! Ohh one more thing Toots...about that plant called Crocosmia...what kind of 'SIN' does it prefer..cause I don't do no cussing...I could stomp my feet and spit...I was just curious!!!! lol lol Thanks girl...Love ya!!!!

Lisa (aka) French said...

Tootsie you have so much info here~~~will have to send hubby to read this before we get started in the fall! I didn't know you lived in SC?? So what zone am I in here in SC anyway? What do you suggest for tropical foliage look? We have yet to start our backyard and I am at a loss since I don't do the gardening thing but need all the help I can get;) French

Anonymous said...

Morning Tootsie Wootsie! Darling, were you up typing all night?! What a post this morning. I don't think there is anything about flowers you don't know! You should write a book. I have a shady side in my teeny tiny backyard and it outgrows my sunny side. I have lots of Elephant Ears (I know that's not their real names), ferns of diiferent kinds and hostas. The ferns just keep popping up and the elephant ears do too! Oh, a few years back I bot a poor little ivy from the store and just thot I would plant it in the ground to see what would happen. Well, let me tell you, it went to town. It is ever so happy and even climbs up the fence and the leaves, when I leave them alone, have gotten almost a foot long! That's my shady tale and I'm sticking to it!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Justine said...

Don't you have your own shade garden to show us, Toots? I wanna see!

Justine :o )

jojillia said...

toots,you are a wealth of info. you are helping me so much. better then any book. keep it coming.

Buffie said...

Oh wow! Cool just when I needed to know something youwrote about it!
Ps, Busy is a mini YOU!

onlymehere said...

My goodness, you so need to write a book! I need to print so much from you blog when we get ready to do this this fall! Have a good night.

imjacobsmom said...

Wow! Thanks for the info on the hydrangeas. I've got several in my yard that have taken the year off from bloomin'. I think that you have definitely hit the nail on the head. We had a nice spring and then a frost. I thought I was in the clear, but I guess I got fooled. I've got two Annabelles that are not showing any signs of a bud. A PeeGee with only two buds showing, and two Endless Summers with wonderful foilage this year, but that's all. The other 3 Annabelles are loaded. My Blushing Bride is trying very hard to survive after almost being pulled from the ground during mulch removal this spring - poor baby! I have a Climbing Hydrangea that is on it's third year and it is sure taking it's time. It finally is adding some new growth! I understand that they take quite awhile to get established. Keep on bloggin' - Yours is definitely one of my favs! - Robyn

Anonymous said...

Oh, I have learned a lot about planting a shade garden. Now I'm worried about planting a potted hydrangea under a Douglas fir in my front yard. It was a gift last year and it overwintered in the pot, so it's still small. I'll move it in the fall. So much great advice here! Thank you! Fieldstone/Pam

Jesikarena said...

why oh why did I not read this last year?! I really could have used that info on the hydrangeas!
But I have it now so all it well! Thanks for the great post!

Carol said...

I went from full sun to deep shade and its a whole new ball game. I can grow many of these even in South Texas. Thanks for posting!