The Q&A Archives: Best recommendations for dark and mottled shade perennials and shrubs

Question: My rear yard is shaded by 12, well spaced, 50-70' high trimmed oak trees. Aside from rhododendrums, hydrangeaa, astilbes and azaleas, what else can you recommend in shrubs, vines, grasses and perennials which would thrive in well watered [ sprinkler system ] dark and partial shade. Maximum sunlight, mostly filtered through the high tree canopy varies bewteen 2-4 hours a day

Answer: There are many plants that would do well in this type of shade. Perennials to consider might include columbine, hellebore, Polemonium, Mertensia virginica, Tiarella, Lamium, Asarum, Dicentra, Epimedium, Liriope, Tricyrtis, Ophiopogon, the many different cultivars of Hosta, and assorted ferns among others. Shrubs you might consider would include Aucuba, Calycanthus, Nandina, Mahonia, Sarcococca, Pieris japonica, and Leucothoe. Most vines and ornamental grasses require more sun to stay healthy, however you might be able to grow the sweet autumn clematis as a flowering vine in the sunniest spot and you could try Hakonechloa for a grassy texture, also in the brightest area. Your local county extension and/or professionally trained nursery staff should also have suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the growing conditions in the area where you are planting and your specific design goals. Enjoy your shade garden!

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