Would like colorful perennials under shade trees and begonias are not surviving. - Knowledgebase Question

Wichita, Ka
Question by tfalomom
May 27, 2008
I planted begonias and hostas under my trees last year and they looked good all summer. This year the hostas returned, but the begonias did not. So I planted a different type of begonias this spring. The appear to be losing their leaves and disappearing. The ones that are still visible look sick. I tried the sprinkle flower fertilizer (because we have had alot of rain). But then when that did not seem to work, I used Miracle Grow attached to the water hose. The hostas are hanging in there, but the begonias are not surviving. I use potting soil when I plant in the gardens because our ground has hard clay. I would like to have color under my shade trees and I would like the flowers to return every year so I won't have to keep replanting. Do you have any suggestions of what is not working with the begonias and what is another flower I could use?

Answer from NGA
May 27, 2008


Begonias can just disappear if the soil remains too wet, which seems to be what has happened to yours. Instead of begonias, try planting Bishop's hat, or barrenwort (Epimedium x versicolor): Attractive heart-shaped leaves. With its delicate yellow flowers, 'Sulphureum' is the most popular cultivar.

Dead nettle (Lamium maculatum): Look for cultivars such as 'Beacon Silver' with rosy pink flowers and silver leaves edged in green or the white-blooming 'White Nancy'.

Heart-leaved bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia): Large, leathery leaves and rose-pink flowers in early spring?looks great in a big grouping.

Sweet woodruff (Gallium odoratum): Finely textured leaves and white flowers in spring?top-flight ground cover in the shade garden. Will spread.

Dicentra (bleeding heart) is another good choice.

Hope one of these suggestions is just right for your garden.

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