The Q&A Archives: Dying Shade Plants

Question: We built a new flower bed in a very shady spot. My impatiens are doing beautifully. However, my bleeding heart plant and most of my annuals are curling up and dying. Some of the annuals never flowered at all. We've been watering them regularly. Can you help me figure out what I'm doing wrong ?

Answer: I'd suspect the soil isn't quite what your plants need. If you amended the bed with lots of organic matter prior to planting, the bed should contain just the right nutrients, be quick draining, and still retain enough moisture for your plants. If you didn't amend the bed, be sure to prepare it well prior to planting again. Shade-loving plants generally thrive in rich, moist soil and you should only have to water once each week, making sure to deeply soak the soil. The Bleeding Heart is a perennial but after it has finished blooming the foliage will die down to ground level. So if that's what your plant is doing, it's perfectly natural. The roots will remain alive and will produce new foliage in the spring. Since there are varying degrees of shade, be sure that the plants you choose can actually take deep, dark shade. Hostas and ferns are reliable under those circumstances, as are impatiens and lobelia. Hope this sheds some light on the problem!

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