The Q&A Archives: Shady Slope

Question: I have a shady/sunny slope mostly shade/partial shade, 125 yards long by 20 feet high. It has never been planted except for 8 large trees. I have begun planting it but it is becoming very expensive so I hate to make any mistakes. Can you give me some plant selections for my zone (9).

Answer: Hillsides generally offer a less hospitable environment for plants than do level gardens. Soil is usually shallow and poor, and it's hard to get water to penetrate deeply enough to promote strong, dense roots. The following suggestions are for plants that will provide attractive cover for slopes and help prevent soil erosion: Rosa rugosa, creeping rosemary, Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle), Star Jasmine, and Malephora (Ice Plant). Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quiquefolia) is a rapid grower that should cover the area quickly. The glossy green leaves turn gorgeous red in the fall. Virginia creeper's cousin, Boston ivy (P. tricuspidata) has a similar growth rate and provides evergreen coverage. Flowering vines that will do the trick include Clematis durandiiand five-leafed akebia (Akebia quinata).

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