The Q&A Archives: some diffused light to full shade

Question: I'd like to use a planting box outside my bedroom window. Unfortunately, there is only 2 feet between my window and the house next door, with minimal light coming from two stories above.

This area gets some diffused light to full shade. I live in San Francisco, so the climate is on the cool side.

Any suggestions as to what would thrive, or tolerate, this environment?

Answer: There are a number of shade tolerant annuals you can use, and what's nice about annuals is that you can change them with the seasons. Choices include impatiens, dead nettle, pansy, ornamental kale, and trailing fuchsia.

Perennials adapted to shade include:

Madenhair Fern (Adiantum pedaturm), grows 10-18 in. with fine-textured foliage.
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) 6-9 in., blue flsowers
Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) 1-2 ft. Woodland native. Needs moist soil
Wild Ginger (Asarum), 6-10 in. Creeping rootstalks and leaves have ginger-like fragrance
Lady Fern (Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum') 2-3 ft. An easy to grow fern
Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis) 6-12 in.
Shield or Wood Fern (Dryopteris) 2-3 ft. Large group of ferns
Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoraturm) 6-8 in. Plants produce white fragrant flowers in spring
Hosta 4-36 in. Dependable perennial. Numerous species and varieties available
Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) 12-18 in. Yellow flowers, silver variegated foliage, also known as Galeobdolon luteum
Spotted Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) 6-8 in. Trailing, most often used as a groundcover, but looks great in hanging baskets and planter boxes.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) 1-2 ft. Early spring-blooming perennial. Plants produce nodding clusters of blue flowers.
Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) 2-4 ft. Fertile fronds resemble cinnamon sticks
Japanese Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) 6-8 in. Groundcover. Often winterburns in exposed sites.
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) 12-18 in. Woodland native.
Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum) 2-5 ft. Woodland native. Long, arching stems bear greenish white flowers.
Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum spp.) 18 in. Produces bright yellow flowers and deeply cut, oak-like leaves
Merrybells (Uvularia spp.) 1-2 ft. Woodland native. Produces nodding, yellow flowers

Hope these suggestions help you plant a lovely planter box!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "sunset on summer"