Answer: First of all, you need to add lots of organic matter to your soil such as compost, rotted leaves, or aged stable manure and bedding along with a small amount of sand. Improving the soil is the first step toward growing healthy plants. Next, you will probably want to run some basic soil tests to see what other amendments (and how much) you may need to add, such as lime. Your county extension (305-5742) can help you with that.
Part shade can be defined a number of ways. If your planting area is sunny in the morning but shady all afternoon, look for plants that like shade to part sun. If it is sunny all afternoon and shady in the morning, then look for plants that take full sun to part shade. The reson for this is that the afternoon sun is very hot.
Most perennials only bloom for a few weeks, so for continuous color you might be happier with annuals. These plants are also very predictable in terms of their mature size, so check the labels and space them accordingly. For morning sun you might try the bedding begonias, petunias, sweet alyssum, trailing lobelia, ageratum, and snapdragons along with coleus. For afternoon sun you might try flowering vinca rosea, marigolds, zinnias, cleome, cosmos, sunflowers, and dwarf tithonia.
With a little experimentation you will discover which plants do best for you and can then add more types based on that information. Enjoy your flowers!
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