The Q&A Archives: Perennial for Sun & Shade

Question: I would like to plant something that flowers, at the end of my sidewalk. One side of the walk gets a lot of brutal sun and the other side is shadier due to a large maple tree. The sidewalk is narrow so the plant would have to be compact. The former owners had hostas there but they never did well so I dug them up.

Answer: To be honest, I can't think of a thing that would do what you want in a truly symmetrical way. A sun tolerant variety of hosta would be one of the few plants that might tolerate both sets of conditions. Another possibility would be alow growing or creeping thyme, which although generally considered to be a sun lover will also tolerate some shade. Along those lines, you might try some type of sedum -- there are many sizes and types available. Finally, you might try English ivy, perhaps in one of its more diminutive forms and see how that does. This does not flower, but the variegated forms can be quite colorful. The problem with the area is not just the hot sun, but also the competition from the maple roots for water and nutrients (as well as the crown cutting down on rain and sunlight) on the shady side. Good luck with your project!

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