Made for Shade - With Laura from Garden Answer

Feb 19, 2019

Hi everyone, I’m Laura from Garden Answer, and today I want to talk a little bit about shade!

Yes, shade gardening is definitely not as easy as creating a flowerbed full of sun-loving annuals, but in a way I like it better. It challenges me to get creative with color and texture, and I’m excited that there are even more colorful shade-loving plants that will be making their first appearances at garden centers in the next few years ahead!

If I had to pick a favorite for shade, I think I would have to say it’s the Boxwood. I love how versatile they are. They do well in both sun and shade, they come in a few different color variations (Sprinter is a glossy dark green, and Wedding Ring has pretty yellow to white variegation), and you can leave them in their more fluffy, natural shape or you can shear them into very formal shapes. Also, the fact that they provide immediate structure allows me to fill in with less structured, more free-formed perennials, ferns, or even colorful annuals that do well in shade. In lighter shade, I’m able to plant another one of my favorites, the hydrangea. Usually they need a good block of strong sun, but our summers are so hot with very little protection from the sun that our hydrangeas do like to get a little break in the afternoon.

That said, here are a few of my go-to plants that will help you add color and texture to your flower beds and containers that the sun doesn’t reach. 

Hosta
These perennials have been around for a long time, so there are many colors and mature sizes to choose from. One of my favorites is Shadowland ‘Autumn Frost’, it has a lot of chartreuse in the leaf and this bright spot of yellow can make a big difference in the shade.

Brunnera
Similar in appearance to hosta, but many have more of a blue tone in color. These are really great for full shade, wet areas. 

Hellebores
So many colors, and always one of the first signs of spring! I really love these plants! Look for Anna’s Red, Apricot Blush, Ivory Prince or Ruse Black. Each of these is tried and true, and the winter to early spring color is wonderful. 

Heucheras
Again, a perennial with a wide range of color and sizes. Some heuchera, like Dolce ‘Wildberry’ still do best in full to part shade, while others such as Primo ‘Mahogany Monster’ grow in sun OR shade, how easy is that?

BoxwoodI just planted a long hedge of Sprinter Boxwood, and I’m looking forward to watching these grow and add color along our driveway. Sprinter has a nice, compact habit with a final height of only 48”. 

Astilbe
This is one of the very best plants for wet shade, and the elegant flower plumes will light up your garden for weeks at a time. 

Aruncus
Check out Chantilly Lace, another great plant for wet shade. These look quite a bit like Astilbe, but bloom later, usually in mid to late summer.

Aaron and I are so looking forward to heading to Charlotte soon. Be sure to visit with us at the Proven Winners booth, and we can always talk more about ideas for the shade there!

FEB. 22-24 & MAR. 1-3
THE PARK EXPO AND CONFERENCE CENTER