There are different kinds of shade and it makes a difference in what you can grow. 


1.     Light shade is 2-4 hours of shade per day.

2.     Filtered shade is sunlight through branches all day.

3.     Part shade is 4-5 hours of shade per day.

4.     Full shade lasts all day.


          So if you watch your garden you can decide on which plants you want where.  Nearly all plants can use some shade during the very hot days.  You can have a good deal of color without blooms if you choose leaves that are variegated.  In my catalogs this year there is a white leafed Hosta that would not survive very long in sun. The leaf shapes are also very different and it makes it fun just to see the variations.

          Another problem to watch for in shady areas is water.  Tree roots are thirsty and can steal lots of water and nutrients from plants in the shade. Rhododendrons love shade as well as acidic soil but their roots are shallow and cannot compete with trees unless there is enough water for  both. I have them on the North side of the house which  gives them some wind protection during the winter. The  PJM’s are smaller and easier to grow than the others.

          Hollies do well under high shade and on the east side of the house where they get morning sun.  I like to have several females that are compatible with one male in order to get the red berries for Christmas decorations. Since they keep their leaves during the winter the  house protects them from some of the wind. Many people call them winter berries. Some of my Hollies have blue berries and some have red. You need at least two of the same kind of Holly to get the berries. Ask the Garden Center or Nursery for a matched set when you go to buy them.

          Ferns can not stand full sun.  Many years ago I planted some on the South end of the yard and they gradually migrated northward. There are tall Ferns, short Ferns, and soft ones. As with  other plants you can use mulch  around their roots to keep them cool.  In the back corner in front of a fence, I have Goats Beard (Aruncus sp.) It is a fine leafed water loving plant. A tall one may get 6 feet tall and a shorter on to feet tall.  They have a white fluffy bloom that hangs down like a beard.

          If you want a plant in shade that can take care of itself, try Blue Bells (Campanula rotundifolia). Years ago I bought 3 plants and now I have a blue area under a large Cottonwood Tree that spreads a little more each year by roots. I let it go as it dies back in May and I can plant in its territory with              annuals such as Impatiens or Begonias without bothering my blue patch. On April 15th the Blue Bells were in full bloom. There are not many blue flowers in Nebraska that do that well.

          Under a Crab Tree there is a patch of ‘Jack Frost’ Brunnera that seeds well. It has variegated (frosty) rough leaves in an 18-20 inch wide clump and only 6 inches tall. Some of its seedlings are solid green but easy to pull. It has dainty blue flowers but the fun is the variation in the long (12 inches) and wide (3 inch) leaves. One has crossed to the other side of the yard and is in a stump of a Redbud Tree (Cercis Canadensis). The rest of the Redbud and the Jack Frost are doing fine.

          Annabelle Hydrangea also grows well under the high shade of the Cottonwood Tree. Each fall I cut it to the ground and each spring the bush is a little wider and I have given many away. It gets about 5 feet tall with 12 inch white blooms that last until frost, just turning somewhat pink. From a tiny plant to a now 8 foot around plant its blooms can be taken inside and dried to make a winter bouquet.

Copyright 2015