The Q&A Archives: shade planting

Question: we live in Northeast PA and our negihbor has a wooden fence that I would like to plant in front of on my side of the property but the fence is in the shade mostly. Any suggestions. i would like it to be a plant that comes back every year. The fence is about 6 ft.

Answer: There are lots of small trees, shrubs and perennials for shady gardens. Below is a list - those with an asterisk indicate PA native plants:
Small Trees for Shade -
Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)* ;American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)* ;
Redbud (Cercis canadensis)* ; Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)*; Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)*; Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa); Corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas); Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)*; Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)*; Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)*.


Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora); Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)*;
Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)*; Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus);
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)*; Shrub-type dogwoods (Cornus spp.)*; Redvein enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) ; Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii);
Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)*; St. John's-wort (Hypericum spp.)*;
Deciduous holly (Ilex verticillata)*; Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)*;
Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)*; Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica);
Fetterbush (Leucothoe racemosa)* ; Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)*; Oregon grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium); Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)*; Pieris (Pieris spp.);
Rhododendron and azalea (Rhododendron spp.)*; Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica)*;
Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)*; Yew (Taxus spp.)* ; Mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)*; Arrow-wood (Viburnum dentatum)*; Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)*;
Blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium)*.

Herbaceous Perennials:
Bear's breeches (Acanthus spinosus 'Spinosissimus'); Monkshood (Aconitum spp.)*;
Baneberry (Actaea spp.)*; Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis); Anemone (Anemone spp.); Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)*; Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)* ;
Goatsbeard (Aruncus spp.)* ; Ginger (Asarum canadense)* ; European ginger (Asarum europaeum); Astilbe (Astilbe spp.); Bergenia (Bergenia spp.); Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla); Turtlehead (Chelone spp.)*; Goldenstar (Chrysogonum virginianum)* ; Bugbane (Cimicifuga spp. -- now listed as Actaea)* ; Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis); Corydalis (Corydalis spp.)* ; Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.)*; Foxglove (Digitalis spp.); Bishop's hat (Epimedium spp.);
Dogtooth violet (Erythronium spp.)*; Ferns* ; Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum);
Perennial geranium (Geranium spp.)*; Golden variegated hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'); Lenten rose, Christmas rose (Helleborus spp.); Alumroot (Heuchera spp.)*; Hosta (Hosta spp.); Crested iris (Iris cristata)*; Lilyturf (Liriope spp.); Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)*; Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)* ; Forget-me-not (Myosotis spp.)*; Jacob's ladder (Polemonium reptans)*; Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata)*; Solomon's seal (Polygonatum spp.)*; Primrose (Primula spp.); Bethlehem sage (Pulmonaria saccharata); Rodgersia (Rodgersia spp.); Meadow rue (Thalictrum spp.)*; Foamflower (Tiarella spp.)* ;
Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)* ; Toad lily (Tricyrtis); Violets (Viola spp.)* ; Barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides)*.

Hope this list helps you choose just the right plants for your garden.

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