The Q&A Archives: perrennials for NW side of afternoon sun

Question: I woulld like suggestions for flowering perrennials growing no taller than 3 feet for under a window on the northwest side of the house. The bed gets full afternoon sun in midsummer but because it faces northwest and not due west its now getting about 4 hours and by the equinox will have even less sun. I dug out some old overgrown evergreen hedges and would like to make an attractive perrennial bed . We recently moved here and I brought some things in pots but want to know if they would do well there. Among them are coreopsis moonbeam, sedum autumn joy, purple coneflower,bearded iris, and bee balm.Is it enough sun and is it too hot? I need suggestions. Also deer resistant would be nice but I'm open to fencing if neccessary.

Answer: That particular exposure is a very difficult one to plant, so you will need to work by trial and error. Of the plants you named I would expect the sedum and coneflower to do the best followed by the coreopsis and iris and lastly the bee balm. You might also try black-eyed Susans, daylilies, perennial geraniums, plumbago and perhaps one of the small summer blooming pink flowered spireas. Some of the herbs might do well there too. Consider "Berggarten" sage, chives, and creeping thyme as possibilities.

To give your plants the best chance for success in this difficult spot, be sure to work in plenty of organic matter and otherwise prepare the soil well. You might also consider planting a small tree at that corner to help shade the area in the afternon, thus creating a niche for a shady garden rather than battling with the seasonal sun. This of course is a longer term approach.

With regard to deer resistance, it is mostly a matter of what your local population has learned to like to eat and if your garden is on their routine browse trail or not. (All the deer at my house eat daylily buds like candy but only a few of them will eat the black-eyed Susan flowers... so far.) You might have success using some of the repellent sprays or you might have to resort to a fence. A fence is of course the only certain protection and is usually easier to install before you have done extensive plantings.

Good luck with your project!

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