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Tell us your Favorite Shade Plants

By dave
January 20, 2016

We're putting together a list of the ATP members' favorite shade plants! Come on in and read how to nominate your favorites! We will later publish a final article on the top picks.

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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jan 21, 2016 8:59 AM CST
This plant is often either a love or hate for folks. It is a very robust fern, native in my area which is always a plus for me. It will get quite large (3' x 3') if the siting is right. I use them freely as an understory to conifers, which is where they grow normally, as well as an accent plant here and there.

Don't let this cute little guy fool you:


Here's what it will grow into:


(Which I think is a lovely look, but be forewarned...)
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Jan 21, 2016 11:30 AM CST
I cannot seem to get this fern to survive my summer even in deep shade. I think perhaps the dry winds do them in.
Name: Connie
Willamette Valley OR (Zone 8a)
Forum moderator Hybridizer Region: Pacific Northwest Lilies Sempervivums Sedums
Pollen collector I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
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pardalinum
Jan 22, 2016 3:04 PM CST
I'm with Deb on the swordfern! I have had a massive clump in my front shade garden for almost forty years.

It makes a wonderful green, vertical backdrop for other shade plants that I arrange in front of it, usually in containers. The contrast of caladiums, coleus, impatiens and other shade flowers is really nice against the green sword fern behind them.

One thing I have to remember is to prune back the previous year's fronds by the end of March or the job gets real difficult when the new fronds come up within the clump!

Also the sword fern needs little water in the summer as it is accustomed to the dry summers here.

Marilyn, do you have alkaline soil? That could be a problem.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jan 22, 2016 3:20 PM CST
I only recently tried cutting back the old fronds, what a difference that makes! We have an overgrown Xmas tree lot between us and our neighbor, and the sword ferns are starting to colonize that, along with snowberry, elderberry, and salmonberry. Love it.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

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