The Q&A Archives: Shade Gardening

Question: We would like to find out about cutting flowers we could plant in our yard which is covered with large oak trees and gets a lot of shade.

Answer: Gardening under oaks can present a two-fold problem. Shade is the most obvious, but oak roots are intolerant of constant moisture and won't like the disturbance that comes from cultivating the soil prior to planting. If you can keep your plants at least 10' away from the trunks of your oak trees, you can grow the following perennials: Wolly Yarrow, Aloe, Artemisia, Bergenia, Erigeron (Santa Barbara Daisy), California Poppy, Heuchera (Coral Bells), Sage, Evening Primrose, Oregano, Stonecrop (Sedum) and Thyme. None of these will provide flowers for cutting, but all will look nice in a bed near oak trees. If you can plant further away from the trees, out of the root zone, you can grow these shade-loving plants: Windflower, Columbine, Astilbe, Browallia, Campanula, Clivia, Lily-of-the-Valley, Digitalis, Helleborus, Iris and most lilies. Some of these plants produce flowers for cutting.

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