The Q&A Archives: shrubs for a shady place under evergreens

Question: i live upstate ny and I have a corner in my yard which is shaded by very tall evergreens. Two years I planted a burning bush in that spot but i do not think that it liked the shade and the acid soil very much; anyhow, the deer took care of it! Could you please advise on the type of shrubs I could plant?
Thank you

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.

There aren't too many plants that deer won't nibble on, especially if the competition for food is high, so fencing might be the only way to keep deer from feasting on your new plants. Wish there were an easier solution!

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