PERENNIALS FOR SHADY AREASGardeners are usually more familiar with perennials for sunny areas of the landscape. However, many perennials prefer a shady to partially shaded area.
Mary Ann Rogers, Smith County Master Gardener
- Columbines (Aquilegia)are elegant plants with fern like foliage and abundant flowers in the spring. Two beautiful and useful native species are A. canadensis or wild columbine, with a red/yellow blend colored flower, and Hinkley's or Texas Gold columbine, with bright yellow flowers. Plant height is 18 - 24 inches.
- Lobelia (Cardinal flower) is native to the eastern and southern United States. A beautiful flowering perennial, it requires moist soil and protection from the afternoon sun. Lobelia blooms August through October. Plant height is 2 - 4 feet.
- Soapwort does well in either dry or moist areas, sun or partial shade; however, foliage may burn in very sunny areas during the hottest days of summer. The foliage makes an attractive ground cover. Soapwort blooms from late spring until fall. The flowers are pink and fragrant. Plant height is 1 - 2 feet.
- Other perennials for shady areas to consider are hardy ferns, Lycoris, daylilies, plumbago, obedient plant and hostas.
SHADE-LOVING PERENNIAL EVERGREEN PLANTS
Are you blessed with lots of shade trees, and are you searching for plants that will grow well in shade? Something that will stay green year around? Here are some shade-loving perennial evergreen plants that you may want to consider.
- Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica) is a tropical-looking shrub that has dark green leaves similar to the castor bean plant but stays green year around. It loves shade and rich organic soil. Average height is four feet, and width is about the same in mature plants; so give it plenty of room.
- Japanese Aucuba (Acuba japonica) is a drought-tolerant shrub with glossy, light green leaves. It is sometimes called gold spot because it is generously sprinkled with yellow-gold dots. Aucuba will do well even in heavy shade and does not tolerate much sun at all. This plant will provide a bright spot in your garden, summer and winter. It grows to about four feet high and not quite so wide.
- If you need something shorter for ground cover under trees, you may want to consider Holly fern (Crytomium falcatum). Its long fronds of coarse-looking fern have a hardy appearance. Its average height is about two feet, and it spreads about two feet.
Always remember to apply two to three inches of mulch around these plants to help them through the winter. If you know a hard freeze is coming, it also helps to water the plants. Don't let a freeze catch them with dry feet!
If you are not familiar with these plants, pay a visit to your local nurserymen. They will be glad to show you these and other shade-loving evergreen perennials. Happy gardening!
J.D. Wood, Smith County Master Gardener
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