The Q&A Archives: Shade Gardening

Question: I am from the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, and need advice as to what to grow on the Eastern side of my house which receives little light. It gets not direct sun, is therefore usually quite damp, and our temperature range is 35 degrees centigrade in summer to -5 degrees centigrade in Winter. Occasional frosts and little water supplies are also a problem. My thought were perhaps ferns and rhododendrons, with some type of ground cover as well. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: The low light conditions are a prime concern, followed by damp soil conditions. Ferns would be happy in the bed, as would Hosta. You might also consider Primrose, Pansies, Camellia, and Forget-Me-Not. Groundcover choices include Ivy, Lamium, Ajuga, Impatiens, Pulmonaria, and Houttuynia. Most of these plants will be happy with about one-inch of water per week, and will adjust to consistently moist, cool soils. Before planting, work in some organic matter to loosen the soil and help it drain well (you don't want to plant in a bog). Enjoy your shade garden!

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