PLANTS FOR SHADE

Barbara Porsch, Master Gardener

I wouldn’t trade my beautiful big trees for anything. Over the years through trial and error, I have found my favorite half dozen plants that give me more bang for my buck in the shade.

  1. Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) is a dependable foundation plant that is evergreen and requires little care except trimming out damaged fronds at the beginning of new growth. Too much sun can scald the fronds and burn them.  When planting, the crown of the plant should rest at the surface of the soil when watered in.
  2. Cast Iron (Aspidistra elatior) is another evergreen plant that doesn’t like the sun at all. A native of China, it is easily grown in landscape or as a houseplant. The common name comes from the fact that it can survive with little care.    I have this plant in the ground and in pots outdoors.  In winter if there is ice in the forecast, I protect the pots with an old blanket or something, but those in the ground survive.   They benefit from having damaged or sun burned leaves clipped out at the ground.
  3. Columbine (Aquilegia) is a herbaceous flowering perennial which can be seeded into the garden anytime in spring or summer. Transplants can usually be found in the spring in local nurseries.  ‘Texas Gold’ is a variety that especially performs well in this area.  Their attractive lacy leaves and bright yellow flowers make a wonderful appearance in a shady spot.
  4. Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana) Its claim to glory is the abundance of beautiful purple berry clusters along the stems in the late summer.
  5. Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is a native grass which has beautiful green leaves and then the seed heads which resemble oats add texture through the winter. It needs to be cut back late winter or early spring.
  6. Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) can thrive either in full shade, or full sun. It needs to be cut back early spring prior to new grown, but the seed pods are beautiful all winter following the red blossoms that resemble a bishop’s cap…thence the common name.  Needless to say, the hummingbirds love this plant.

Try some of these if you need a touch of beauty in your shade.

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