The Q&A Archives: flowers for shade

Question: I have quite a few areas that have mostly shade with a very filtered and small time of light or sun during the day. Some areas are sandy and some have roots in between. I would love to grow flowers or grass or both.. Any suggestions? I am in southern california. One of the areas has water running down daily from the neighbor so it's almost always moist.

Answer: There are lots and lots of plants that will thrive in varying degrees of shade in your gardening region. One very important consideration is filling your planters and beds with good soil amended with lots of organic matter to help retain moisture. (Most shade-loving plants like moist conditions.) Some flowering annuals and perennials for you to consider include Acanthus (Bear's Breech), Aconite, Anemone (windflower), columbine, Asarum (wild ginger), Astilbe, Begonia, Bergenia, Browallia (Amethyst flower), Caladium, Campanula (bellflower), Clivia, Coleus, Cyclamen, Ferns, Gentiana, Hedychium (ginger lily), Helleborus, Heuchera (coral bells), Hosta, Impatiens, Lamium (dead nettle), Primula (primrose), Saxifraga, Trillium (wake robin), Vinca (periwinkle) and Viola (Pansy). Some plants that do especially well in damp soil include Caltha (marsh marigold), Colocasia (taro), Japanese Iris, Juncus (rush), Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Darmera (umbrella plant), Siberian Iris, Houttuynia cordata, Lobelia, Mimulus cardinalis (scarlet monkey flower), Rheum (ornamental rhubarb), Trollis (globeflower), Woodwardia (giant chain fern) and Zantedeschia (common calla). Hope these suggestions provide you with enough choices to create a beautiful shade garden - even in the soggy areas of your yard. Enjoy!

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