The Q&A Archives: Lavender

Question: This year will be my first attempt at gardening. I have a second floor balcony that gets no sun. I plan to try a container garden and hanging baskets. Is there any hope for lavender? If so, what is the best type and how do I start? All other suggestions for plants are welcome and needed. I want lots of color.

Answer: I'm afraid lavender won't flower unless it receives full sunshine all day, but there are lots of other plants that will provide colorful foliage and flowers in shady spots. Consider the following:

Astilbe: This summer-flowering perennial with plume-like blooms does well in Zones 4-9 and is available in several colors including shades of pink, red, purple and white. Native to Asia, Astilbe is easy to grow in average garden soil and requires plenty of moisture. Does well in dense shade.

Bulbs: Daffodils, crocus and grape hyacinths all do well and add spots of purple, yellow and white.

Caladium: These showy foliage plants feature large heart-shaped leaves of red, pink, green and white. They prefer full shade and grow to a height of approximately 15 inches.

Foxglove (Digitalis): Falling into two groups, perennials and biennials, foxgloves are grown for their striking bell-shaped flowers on long spikes. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and make excellent cut flowers.

Hosta: These popular, hardy plants thrive in Zones 3-8 and feature summer-blooming flowers of white or lavender that extend on long stalks from the foliage. Some varieties are surprisingly fragrant and most do well in dense shade.

Hydrangeas: Hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs that grow to three feet or taller; large flower heads tend toward blue if soil is acidic and pink if soil is alkaline. A good choice for dense-shade areas.

Lobelia: Lobelia comprises a large genus of perennials and annuals in both tall and low-growing forms. These plants need moist soil and light shade.

Vinca: This annual shade-loving vine looks attractive in containers, hanging baskets or as a groundcover. Small blue-violet flowers may appear, but the foliage itself is stunning in shaded areas or full sun.

Others to include in your colorful garden include pansies, impatiens, kennilworth ivy, coleus, fuchsias and begonias. Enjoy your new garden!

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