The Q&A Archives: Shade Plants/Flowers/Ground Covers

Question: We live in an older house with established tall trees, some pines etc. There are established shrubs planted tightly in front of the house. The front of house faces north. What kind of flowers, annuals and bulbs can I plant and could you suggest some flowering ground covers? Also, in the back of the house, southern exposure, what sort of ground cover can I plant to stop the soil erosion?

Answer: There are several plants that will thrive in these environments. Annuals such as impatiens do well in shady areas. Flowering perennials such as Astilbe, Aconitum, Aquilegia, Brunnera, and Alchemilla will put on a nice show. Try Asarum europeum, also known as European Ginger for something that is absolutely gorgeous and somewhat new to most gardeners. Of course Hostas are one of my top picks for shady areas and there are many, many varieties. Bulbs such as daffodil, most tulips, crocus, grape hyacinth, squill and dwarf iris. For flowering ground cover I would choose Ajuga or Epimedium. Pachysandra is a top choice for shady area ground cover. In the back for erosion control I would opt for Coronilla varia or Crownvetch. It is a flowering ground cover, excellent for erosion control that spreads rapidly and efficiently. It grows to about 2' tall. If that is too high for you, consider Lamium Mac. 'Silver Beacon'. It also flowers and grows to 6" in height.

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