Got Shade?

Living with a forty foot tall maple in the front yard, a huge redbud on one side and an entire hill of oaks and maples behind, I’ve become (out of necessity) a fan of shade tolerant flowers.  I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites—annuals, perennials, bulbs.

Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis):  Dainty nodding bells will tolerate shady conditions, as well as damp and acidic soil.  A delicate sweet fragrance smells like spring to me.  It’s a vigorous spreader so give it some room, then stand back and enjoy.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica):  Pretty sky-blue nodding bells start out as pink buds.  Soft green foliage.  They’re easy and tolerant—except wet feet, so plant these in well-draining soil.

Elephant Ears (Colocasia or Alocasia):  Huge dramatic heart-shaped leaves provide bold lush tropical drama to any shady spot.  They not only tolerate damp soil, they prefer it.  They can tolerate sun, as long as you keep them well-watered.  The tubers are easy to save from year to year, though in a protected area, you can try mulching them well.

Chinese Ground Orchid (Bletilla):  Pretty rosy-lavender flowers are a fabulous addition to any partly shaded perennial bed.  It spreads by creeping rhizomes so will form pretty clumps over time.  It’s tough, durable and not particularly prone to pests or diseases.

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum):  This is the perfect perennial for those areas under trees where grass won’t grow because it’s too shady and the grass can’t compete with the tree roots.  Solomon’s Seal, on the other hand, thrives there.  Because it’s such a strong and vigorous grower, give it plenty of room to roam.

Begonias:  There are so many varieties of begonias to choose between, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.  I like the tuberous begonias because of their large showy rose-like flowers that bloom all summer long.  Just keep them out of any soggy soil.

Caladiums:  Beautiful shade-tolerant heart-shaped leaves in whites, pinks, and/or reds.  Thesoutperformrm impatiens in my dry shady front yard. I had to water impatiens every single day.  These I watered maybe once a week—or less.  You don’t even have to wait for the first flower bud to open because the second that first leaf unfurls, you’ve got color.

There are lots more shade-tolerant plants out there; these are just some of my favorites.  Whether you want a shade tolerant annual which will bloom for you all summer long, or a long-lived perennial which will come back for you for years, we’d got them here.

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