Most yards have at least one spot where the sun does not shine. It can sit bare and unattractive or it can be one of the eye-catching focal points of the yard. Most of these areas receive little to no sun, are usually a damp environment, are protected in some way – shadow of a building/tree coverage/fence shadow – but there are many attractive perennial plants that thrive in these conditions.
If there has not been anything growing in the area you will need to prepare the site properly. Usually in these areas the soil has been compacted down and drainage is poor, so you will need to dig the soil up and turn the soil over, try to break up large dirt balls. Add new soil to the area to bring in new nutrients and to help with better drainage.
Some of the most common perennial plants that do well in these situations are listed below.
Mosses are a dense plant that grow together as mats or cushions, some are very tolerable to walk on, so are perfect for along a path way/walk way and are a very rich green. The rich green color of Moss brightens up a dark, shaded area and goes well with other shade loving plants.
Some of the mosses available in our area that do well are:
Creeping Jenny – Bright yellow ?owers boom in midsummer and enjoys part to full shade/prefers moist areas and withstand moderate foot traf?c. Good as a fast/ aggressive spreader.
Irish and Scotch Moss – These mosses can stand sunlight as long as they are kept moist and will tolerate moderate foot traf?c. Irish Moss is bright green and Scotch Moss is golden green, they have small white ?owers in late spring.
Woolly Thyme – Fuzzy, grey-green foliage with small pink ?owers in early summer, very fragrant when stepped on. These will do well in full sun or part shade and prefers nutrient-poor soil. Thrives in dry conditions.
The Hosta plant is one of the most popular perennials for shade gardens, although some can be grown in full sun/part shade. With so many Hostas available, the gardener has many choices of colors to choose from.
Blues – Mississippi Delta has large blue-grey leaves with white blooms in July. Queen Of The Seas is a medium growing Hosta with blue-green leaves and lavender blooms in June. Silver Bay is a slow growing, smaller Hosta with silver-blue leaves and light lavender blooms in July/August.
Variegated – Hanky Panky a small, fast growing Hosta with dark green leaves with gold-colored borders and a narrow white thread in between, violet blooms in July. Rainforest Sunrise a golden-leafed Hosta with very dark green borders with pale lavender blooms in July. Risky Business a medium Hosta with pure white leaves and wide, deep green borders, violet blooms in July/August.
Golds and Yellows – Early Spring is a small, slow-growing Hosta with pale lavender blooms in July. Great Lakes Gold is large with rippled leaf margins with pale lavender blooms in June. Rosedale Golden Goose is large, vigorous and thick leafed, blooms lavender in July.
Ferns can add a “soft” touch to your garden with their ornate fronds. They are a low-maintenance plant that does well in woodland, water/rock gardens, underneath trees and shrubs and shady sites.
Ostrich Fern is one of the tallest ferns with light green fronds. Lady In Red Fern has vibrant burgundy stems that contrast sharply with the mid-green fronds. Miss Sharples Maidenhair Fern has fresh green fronds that mature to chartreuse with bronze over-tones.
Brunnera plants fabulous foliage makes this a most have for a shady garden. A tough plant with mounds of heart-shaped leaves and usually small blue ?owers that resemble forget-me-nots.
Variegata has bright blue blooms with wide, irregular, creamy white margins on grey-green leaves.
Brunnera Macrophylla (Betty Bowring) has small white ?owers which makes a good contrast against its dark green foliage. Jack Frost has small blue ?owers that stand out in this very distinct Brunnera with its frosted foliage with silvery overlay and greenish veins which have a “crackly” look.
These are a few plants that will grow well in our shaded areas and are good companions as they all require the same lighting, water requirements and all can have a good layer of mulch added around each plant. Adding a bird bath to the area will also help with problem insects that also enjoy the shade.
Next up, Sun Loving Plants.