The Q&A Archives: Plants for Shady Areas

Question: I have a 4ft wide space between my covered patio and a privacy wall. The area gets almost no direct sunlight. I would like to grow something other than grass. What plants are best? (flowers or vegetables)

Answer: Following is a list of plants that should perform well in dry shade. These are plants that can tolerate the dim, dry conditions under tall trees or hedges or under the eaves next to north-facing walls, or that can compete effectively with tree roots. Before planting in dry shade, try to improve your soil's water-holding capacity by adding organic matter such as compost, leaf mold, manure, coconut coir, etc. Don't expect to achieve fantastic lushness; most of the plants will tolerate, not necessarily thrive, in dry shade and will probably flower and fruit more sparingly.

Bulbs: Amaryllis belladonna, Convallaria majalis, Cyclamen hederifolium, Freesia, Iris japonica, Lapeirousia, Narcissus, Scilla.
Ferns: Dryopteris, Polypodium, Polystichum munitum.
Groundcovers: Aegopodium podograria, Bergenia crassifolia, Cerastium tomentosum, Erigeron karvinskianus, Hedera helix, Hypericum calycinum, Pachysandra terminalis, Rubus calycinoides, Stachys byzantina, Vinca major, Vinca minor, Viola labradorica,
Viola odorata.
Perennials: Aeonium, Agapanthus orientalis, Aloe, Alstroemeria ligtu, A. pulchella, A. aurantiaca, Anaphalis, Anemone x hybrida, Arum italicum, Aspidistra elatior, Campanula latifolia, Campanula primulifolia, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Chrysanthemum ptarmicifolium, Corydalis lutea, Dierama, Dietes vegeta, Digitalis purpurea, Epimedium, Eucomis, Euphorbia cyparissias, E. robbiae, E. epithymoides, E. perralderianum, E. pinnatum colchicum, E. x warleyense, Festuca ovina glauca, Francoa ramosa, F. sonchifolia, Galium odoratum, Gasteria ,Geranium macrorrhizum, G. palmatum, Helichrysum petiolatum, H. 'Limelight', Helleborus argutifolius, H. foetidus, H. orientalis, Hemerocallis, Heuchera maxima, Iris foetidissima, Kniphofia, Libertia formosa, Limonium perezii, Liriope spicata, Mimulus (Diplacus) hybrids, Modiolastrum lateritum, Origanum dictamnus, Oxalis oregana, Polygonatum commutatum, Polygonum capitatum, Sedum spathulifolium, Sedum spectabile, Sedum spurium, Tiarella, Tolmeia menziesii, Tulbaghia violacea, Vancouveria hexandra, Vancouveria planipetala, Zauschneria californica.

Best wishes with your new shade garden!

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