Perennials for shade

Shade plants

How can you make a shade garden inviting? With perennials, of course! Many people think that perennials won’t grow in shade. Fortunately, there are plenty of beautiful shade gardens that disprove this idea; the variety in shade plants is surprisingly extensive.

Shade is no problem for many perennials

A shady garden doesn’t have to be monotonous: on the contrary, a cool shady habitat can harbour the loveliest shade plants. They may be less spectacular but definitely no less attractive. We define a shady garden as one that receives less than three hours of full sun a day (or a longer time if the plants receive filtered light). Creating a successful planting in a shady garden is not difficult but it will be important to consider exactly how shady the location is. The number of shade plants in cultivation that will grow in partial shade such as under deciduous trees and shrubs or in front of a wall is surprisingly large.

Shade plants introduce light in shady spots

Most shade plants are also referred to as woodland plants. They evolved to grow beneath trees and shrubs in their original habitats so they usually produce flowers in the spring. At that time of year, woodland plants take advantage of the fact that the branches of deciduous trees and shrubs are bare of leaves. Some shade plants, however, bloom during the summer and autumn. A good way to introduce light into a shady spot is to focus on selecting perennials with light flower colours and/or green and white variegated leaves.

Caring for shade plants

Shade is usually not the biggest problem for shade plants. Instead, this is dry soil beneath trees or next to north-facing walls. If they lack both enough light and water, most shade plants will not survive. For this reason, be sure to give them extra water during dry periods. Another way to help shade plants is to give them a layer of mulch so that the soil beneath it will retain moisture better. To do this, scatter a layer of compost, wood chips or tree bark among the shade plants. This will also add humus to the soil. Humus acts like a sponge to improve the water retention of the soil. Groundcovers are perfect, too, since their leaves create a solid ‘roof’ above the soil.

Good shade plant varieties

Take a look at the various shade plants by clicking on ‘Find your perennial’. You’ll be amazed! There are even evergreen shade plants. Some favourite shade plants are lungworts (Pulmonaria), monkscaps (Aconitum), columbines (Aquilegia), plantain lilies (Hosta), Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis), barrenworts and Caucasian Forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla).

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