Full shade plants - Knowledgebase Question

Question by marshleila87
May 9, 2008
I have a side yard that is covered with a wooden structure (awning) that will remain in place. The plant bed along this yard is completely in the shade. I would like to add containers with colorful flowers/plants to brighten up the area (it's mostly beiges and browns). What options do I have for full shade plants? The bed area is 20' x 1' and has five Italian Cypresses in it that are about 20' tall. This area is outside our living room and dining room and is very visible from inside.

Thank you,
Leila Brown

Answer from NGA
May 9, 2008


Here are a few suggestion for your full shade container garden:

Columbine Hinckleyana - Aquilegia chrysantha var. Hinkleyana; Shade loving perennial blooms in May. Beautiful yellow blossoms with a tropical look. Looks great planted with ferns or Turks Cap. Evergreen foliage has a blue green tint. Columbines will cross pollinate and are good re-seeders. Plant several for a nice grouping. Height:12"-36" Soil: Moist Well Drained

Coral Bells - Heuchera sanguinea; Blooms in late spring with multitudes of tubular coral flowers carried on tall spikes above the foliage. Evergreen plant makes a
low neat mound of dark green foliage. Attractive foliage makes a good border plant even when not in bloom. Also fine in rock gardens. Light: Shade Height:18" Soil: Moist Well Drained

Hellebore ?Lenten Rose? - Helleborus orientalis; Attractive leathery foliage on a compact well behaved plant. Graceful nodding flowers of pink to purple in early to mid spring. Long-lived plants for sheltered moist rockeries and well drained woodsy beds. Light: Shade Height: 8"-10"

Penstemon ?Gulf Coast? or ?Brazos? - Pentstemon tenuis; Blooms pale pink in spring and sometimes in fall. Will perform well in poorly drained soil as well as sandy loam. Semi-evergreen in winter. Light: Sun/Shade Height:18"

Sage Lyre Leaf - Salvia lyrata; ?Lyre Leaf? sage reaches 8" when in bloom in spring, otherwise it is a ground hugging perennial. Blooms are light lavender atop green and purple foliage. Can be used as a ground cover and will grow under trees. Will withstand light foot traffic. Light: Sun/Shade Height: 8"-10" Soil: Well Drained

Spiderwort - Tradescantia spp.; Beautiful blue-green foliage and bright purple, white, pink or blue flowers in spring and summer if watered well. Can be used
in shade or sun. May go dormant in summer. Height:18" Soil: Moist Well Drained

Turk's Cap - Malvaviscus arboreus drummondii; Bright green foliage great for lighting up shady areas. Blooms red hearts May to November. Attracts hummingbirds and
butterflies. Will take any soil and any light. Height:2'-4'

Violet Native Wood -Viola missouriensis; Beautiful creamy violet blooms appear in early spring and continue through spring. Dark green leaves make great ground
cover under trees. Propagate by division and by re-seeding. Light: Shade Height: 2"-6" Soil: Moist Well Drained

Wood Sorrel, Pink or White - Oxalis crassipes; Old favorite low-growing edging plant, forming a low mound. Dainty pink or white flowers bloom all spring and summer.
Clover-like leaves emanating from a cluster of bulbs. Leaves are even attractive in themselves. Blooms in sun or light shade. Very dependable. Height: 10"-12" Soil: Moist Well Drained

Yellow Archangel - Lamiastrum galeobdolon; Fast growing groundcover with lovely silver variegated leaves and yellow flowers in spring. Excellent for lighting up shady areas as a groundcover or trailer in pots. Height: 8"-12" Soil: Moist Well Drained

Leopard Plant ? Farfugium japonica var. ?Auro-maculata?; Large, glossy-green circular leaves splashed with yellow. Autumn brings yellow daisy-like flowers on tall spikes. A great plant for damp, shady places. Height: 18"-24" Soil: Moist

And, here are more suggestions:

Aegopodium p. 'Variegatum' (Bishop's Weed) Dense carpet of green and white foliage
Ajuga varieties (Carpet Bugles) Low carpet of leaves, blue flower spikes
Asarum europeaum (European Wild Ginger) Polished, emerald-green leaves
Astilbe x arendsii varieties Fluffy flower plumes, ferny leaves
Campanula carpatica (Carpathian Bellflower) Large blue saucer flowers, low mounds
Carex morrowi 'Augeo-Variegata' Mounds of evergreen, yellow-striped lvs Chrysogonum virginianum (Goldenstar) Long blooming starry yellow flowers
Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Hearts) Arches of heart-shaped flowers
Dicentra x 'Luxurient' (Bleeding Hearts) Low ferny carpet, cherry red flowers Digitalis (Foxgloves) Tall spikes of spotted flowers
Doronicum cordatum (Leopard's Bane) Clean,yellow daisy flowers
Epimedium X rubrum Red-veined/margined leaves, red flowers
Hardy Ferns of all sorts A great diversity of leaf color and height
Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff) Carpets of cartwheel leaves, white flowers Helleborus orientalis (Hellebore) Large, nodding flowers in early spring Hosta 'August Moon' Crisp mound of bright yellow leaves
Hosta sieboldiana 'Frances Williams' Huge blue leaves edged in yellow
Hosta undulata 'Variegata' Clumps of wavy green and white leaves Lamiastrum 'Herman's Pride' Creeping carpet of silver-veined leaves
Lamium maculatum varieties Carpets of white or white striped leaves
Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona' Tall purple-leaved clump, orange flowers
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' Creeping mat of bright yellow leaves
Mentha requienii (Corsican mint) Strongly scented flat green mat.
Myosotis varieties (Forget-Me-Nots) Mists of small blue, yellow-eyed flowers Primula X 'Wanda' Low mats smothered in magenta flowers
Pulmonaria varieties Mounds of silvery leaves, blue flowers

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