The Q&A Archives: Shade Garden with miniroses

Question: Hi, I live in a duplex and have a small area infront that needs more color. Right now I have 6 minirose bushes right against the house, they are about 4 feet tall, and come away from the house about 2 feet. I would like to plant something that will add some color from the ground and will draw the eye up to the roses. Right now it's just dirt. I live in zone 9, and this area is completely shaded (by the building) all day (it is an eastern exposure). I have about 3-4 feet in front of the roses, and the length is about 20 feet. Can you suggest some plants that will bring more life to this area? Also when caring for these minirose bushes, should I prune them all the way down (leaving no leaves just stalks) in the late fall, or should I just give them continous trims? This is what I have been doing afraid I would kill them if I prune them to the ground. I appreciate any advise you can give me.

Answer: A pretty ground cover for shade is dead nettle (Lamium), which is available in a variety of different leaf colors. Houttuynia is another suggestion. The flowers are not especially breathtaking, but the foliage colors are certainly attractive.

Periwinkle (Vinca minor) and Purpleleaf Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei 'Colorata') are two of my favorites. Neither is aggressive and they stay green in winter. Periwinkle has pretty blue flowers in May and June.

Or, you might consider planting annuals in the spot. Impatiens, Lobelia, Primroses and Pansies all provide bright splashes of color in their own seasons.

Best wishes with your garden!

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