Foundation Planting In The Shade - Knowledgebase Question

Baltimore, MD
Avatar for ohrasmussen
Question by ohrasmussen
January 27, 1998
I have a very shady spot along the front foundation of the house where I can get nothing to grow. It is shaded by a large wild magnolia tree. I need something there to hide the gas meter which is about 3 feet high. I had a Rhododendron there that diedand I now have an Andromeda there but all the leaves on the side near the house have died. It looks OK on the side facing the street but I am afraid it will not make it. It will have been there for a year this May. I have more space to fill in. Should I try an evergreen of some sort?

Answer from NGA
January 27, 1998
The fact that the Andromeda looks fine on the street side but not the house side is a little suspicious. That suspicion is compounded by the fact that this is the second shrub which has failed to thrive in this location. Have you noticed any type of insect pests? Sometimes, pests such as spider mites will infect the dark, dry part of a shrub and leave the rest alone. Is the side of the shrub which is facing the house situated in such a way that it gets no sunlight whatsoever or is perhaps extremely dry? There may also be a problem with your soil. If something such as pH is way off in either direction or, if you have an excess or deficiency of some nutrient, plant failure will occur. If it were my yard, I would not plant anything else until I had a soil test performed. Contact your County Extension Office (Ph# 410-666-0445) for details. It would be beneficial to describe this problem to them when submitting your soil sample. Also, inspect the "sickly" side of the Andromeda, especially the undersides of the leaves. Look for insects (they could be very tiny), webs, dark spots, a substance that looks like soot or rust, anything out of the ordinary. Also note if the remaining leaves on the backside are malformed in any way (curled, yellow, once again, anything out of the ordinary), or are they simply dropping off. If you find any irregularities in the remaining leaves feel free to post another question via the website with details and we will try to help you track down the culprit. In the meantime, look into that soil test.

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