The Q&A Archives: Flower Beds, large shaded areas

Question: We recently bought our first home and the house has large trees, crape myrtles, and boxwood hedges. We outlined an area in the front yard under the big oak trees and in front of the boxwood hedges that go across the front of the house. This is an area that gets very little sun and the grass isn't growing. We put in some English Ivy, but we are looking for some plants that will bring color to the yard. I am especially looking for something with color to plant along the front of the boxwood hedges, like another bush that has flowers throughout the year that doesn't get very tall. Do you have any suggestions? I have been looking at things like the camillia, but they seem to get very tall. Thanks for your help.

Answer: Tawny,

The options for color in that area are going to be seasonal. Something that blooms in one season or perhaps something with colored foliage. Most blooming shrubs get large enough to at least match the boxwoods. I might consider using a perennial such as dwarf variegated ginger (yellow and green striped foliage) or Aztec grass (white and green plant like liriope). Another option is to use annuals such as caladiums, impatiens, or torenia (is light levels are pretty good).

If light levels are pretty good (very bright shade to part sun) you might get a dwarf hydrangea, dwarf gardenia or dwarf nandina to work there. Other shrubs that stay dwarf enough are going to be basically green and thus not very good against the boxwood backdrop.

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