The Q&A Archives: Shade-Loving Plants

Question: I have had the hardest time getting evergreens to grow in a shady spot in my yard. Do you have any suggestions? I'm also looking for hardy shade perennials. I already know about hosta, and I'm "hosta'd" to death!

Answer: The answer to your question depends on the extent of the shade and on the type of soil you have. Very few plants will really thrive in heavy deep shade all day. If this is your situation, you may have better luck with an evergreen vine such as English ivy (Hedera helix) and a limited assortment of hosta (they are available in many interesting patterns, sizes and shapes, as well as assorted shades of blue, green, gold and white), and ferns. With some dappled sun or some morning sun, you could add some lily-of-the-valley, sweet woodruff, Solomon's Seal, tricyrtis, astilbe and pulmonaria. You might also add in some evergreen azaleas or rhododendrons.

All of these plants will do best if you prepare the soil with an ample amount of organic matter such as compost, rotted leaves, or well-aged stable manure and bedding. Azaleas and rhodies also absolutely require an acid soil.

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