Shady & Wet - Knowledgebase Question

irvine, Ca
Question by carmen4
October 7, 2009
The front garden area of my house is a 4x6 section that receives very little sun and the soil is always damp. From digging around I can see the soil is claylike and a bit hard to dig in. I know clay can be great for nutrients but will plants grow in this type of soil? Also what types of flowering plants thrive in shade and damp soil? I have already planted 2 rounds that died within 4 weeks! Help!

Answer from NGA
October 7, 2009


Clay soil in and of itself is not necessarily bad soil. You might try working in a generous amount of compost, old rotted leaves or aged stable manure and bedding or other organic material to improve the texture. This would help all sorts of plants do better there.

There are tons of perennials that thrive in the shade. Here's a short list:

Acanthus mollis (bear's breech); Aechmea distichantha (Brazilian vaseplant); Ajuga reptans (carpet bugleweed); Alocasia macrorrhiza (giant taro); Alpinia zerumbet (variegated shell ginger ); Alstroemeria psittacina (parrotlily); Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine); Aristea ecklonii (blue flies); Aspidistra elatior (iron plant); Asplenium nidus (bird's nest fern); Caladium bicolor (caladium ); Canna X generalis (canna); Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant); Coleus x hybridus (Flame Nettle); Crinum asiaticum (grand crinum lily); Cycas revoluta (sago palm); Cyrtomium falcatum (holly fern); Elettaria cardamomum (cardamom); Farfugium japonicum (leopard plant); Globba winitii (dancing ladies ginger); Hedychium coronarium (ginger lily); Helleborus orientalis (lenten rose); Hosta spp. (hosta); Kaempferia laotica (peacock ginger); Liriope muscari (liriope); Lycoris squamigera (surprise lily); Mitchella repens (partridge berry); Monstera deliciosa (windowleaf); Muscari spp. (grape hyacinth); Nephrolepis exaltata (sword fern); Ophiopogon japonicus (mondo grass); Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern); Osmunda regalis (royal fern); Oxalis latifolia (broadleaf woodsorrel); Pentas lanceolata (pentas); Peperomia obtusifolia (blunt-leaved peperomia); Phaius tankervilliae (nun rchid); Philodendron bipinnatifidum (cut-leaf philodendron); Platycerium spp. (staghorn fern); Polymnia sonchifolia (yac?n ); Polystichum polyblepharum (Japanese tassel fern); Primula vulgaris (primrose); Protasparagus densiflorus (asparagus fern); Pteridium aquilinum (bracken); Spigelia marilandica (Indian pink); Strelitzia reginae (bird-of-paradise); Tillandsia recurvata (ball moss); Tradescantia fluminensis (green wandering Jew); Tradescantia spathacea (oysterplant); Tradescantia zebrina (wandering Jew); Tradescantia Andersoniana (spiderwort); Trillium underwoodii (purple toadshade); Vinca minor common (periwinkle); Zamia pumila (coontie); Zephyranthes grandiflora (rain lily); Zingiber zerumbet (pinecone ginger).

Best wishes with your garden!

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