Shade plants - Knowledgebase Question

Grayslake, Il
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Question by dfreitag2
March 13, 2009
I have a garden that is in shade all day long? I live in the Midwest, so what plants to you suggest would do well? Annuals or perennials would work.

Answer from NGA
March 13, 2009
Some of the best perennials for a shade garden in your region include: Aconitum or monkshood, a stately garden plant for the shade garden. Growing to 24 inches tall, these plants prefer an area where soil moisture is constant but not soggy wet. The violet blue flowers look similar to snapdragons and are produced in August and September. Bergania or pigsqueak gives a wonderful textural difference to the shaded garden. The large, glossy green foliage looks similar to wax begonia foliage only much larger. The plant likes a well-drained, moist site in light shade. Pink flowers are produced in April. Growing to 12 to 15 inches tall, these plants offer an orange/yellow background for tall spikes of white flowers in August and September. It does best in a moist soil. Two types of bleeding heart can be used in the shade garden. Dicentra spectabilis is the old-fashioned bleeding heart, growing to three feet in height, it produces pink, locket-shaped flowers on long stems during May and June. It has a habit, however, of going dormant during the summer so prepare for yellowing foliage and a bare spot. It is a good idea to plant something in the vicinity to help cover over the bare area left behind. Dicentra formosa ?Luxuriant?, is a short plant at 12 inches. It produces fine, blue-green fern-like foliage and flowers from May to August with small red flowers. However, unlike its relative, it does not go dormant during the summer and continues to provide color all season. Epimedium grows to 12 inches in height, has heart-shaped leaves, and blooms with yellow/red flowers in May. An added bonus is its outstanding burgundy/crimson fall foliage color. The perennial geranium Geranium endressi ?Wargrave Pink?, does well in shaded areas. Growing to 15 inches tall, it produces salmon pink blooms in May and June and then sporadically through the season. Polemonium or Jacob?s Ladder produces plants that are 15 to 18 inches tall with fine, fern-like foliage. Depending on the cultivar, the foliage can be green or variegated green and white. As an added bonus, it has stalks of lavender blue flowers in May. Pulmonaria or lungwort is an outstanding plant for the moist, well-drained shaded garden. These plants form neat mounds of strap-like leaves and are distinctive for the white markings on the leaves that look like paint splatters. It blooms in April and May with flowers ranging from pink to lavender blue. After flowering, remove the old flower stalks and take full benefit of the lovely, variegated foliage. A final suggestion is Tricyrtis or toad lily. This plant is valued for its late season of bloom around September and October. Flowers resemble tiny orchids. Toad lily prefers soil that is constantly moist but will grow in regular garden areas so long as it doesn?t have to endure long periods of drought. Toad lily will spread and form large colonies but is not considered invasive. You can fill in with some colorful annuals. Best wishes with your shade garden!

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