The Q&A Archives: Lush Easy Annuals for Part Shade

Question: I'm a novice gardener but want to add some drama to my yard. Will Black Mondo grass and black magic elephant ears grow easily in my yard? What kind of easy annuals can I plant to accompany them? If they don't work, what can I use to replace striped monkey grass and also add eye appeal around my mailbox? My yard is shady in the morning; sunny from noon on.

Answer: That does sound like a dramatic combination! You may be a novice gardener, but you have a natural flair for design. Black Mondo Grass is hardy to USDA growing Zone 7 -- I'm not sure where Davidson county falls zonewise. If it's warm enough there, black mondo will probably do fine in your yard. It prefers partial shade, so you'll probably have to give it more water during those sunny summer afternoons.

Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) are tropical plants, so you'd need to dig up and store the tubers each winter to keep them from freezing. They prefer rich, moist soil and some shade. If you'd like to give them a try, please search the database under the term colocasia, and you'll find the growing instructions.

These dark-leaved plants look great paired with bright colored flowerse. Bold and easy options that grow well in shade are tuberous and wax begonias, impatiens, and browallia. The vibrant foliage of coleus and caladium would be great, too. Again, be sure they have plenty of water to make it through the hot afternoons. Hope this helps!

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