Shade Lover’s Garden

What grows in the shade and are there other factors to consider, for example, are there special watering and soil conditions that are best for plants growing in a shade garden?

The Southern Living® Plant Collection is here to help you make use of every inch of your landscape, including bringing life and color to the shade.

Shade plants need water too. Just because these plants are out of the baking sun does not mean they require less water. When the shade is provided by a canopy of trees, the trees compete for the water and can consume the water needed for the other plants. Also, flower producing plants often reduce blooming if they don't receive sufficient amount of water. Ensure your shade garden has plenty of water by providing an inch and a half of water a week and in well-drained garden soil. To read our article When to Water, click here.

Mulch and matter. Shade gardens need a liberal layer of mulch to provide nutrients and help reduce water loss. Whether your mulch includes leaves, straw, or bark chips, these materials decompose over time and release organic matter to keep the soil healthy. Mulch also preserves moisture in the soil and helps control weeds. Maintain a 2 - 4 inch layer of mulch in your shade garden for optimal soil fertility and health. To learn how to make your own Mulch, click here.

Plants needing shade to part sun and sun to part shade light conditions are perfect for the shade garden. While these plants need some amount of sun, this is provided in the early morning and late afternoon hours as the sun rises and sets. Find out more about Sun Exposure by clicking here.

Shade to part sun plants are happily content under dappled lighting, for example, the high sun shining through the trees' leaves, and when planted on the west side of the landscape or garden - the low setting sun gives evening light without afternoon intensity. Try these favorite Southern Living® Plant Collection shade to part sun shrubs:

*The Southgate® Rhododendron series offers heat tolerance and diversity. Depending on the variety, they grow from 3 - 6 feet tall and boast blooms in white, pink, or purple. For more information, see BrandiBreezy, DivineGrace, and Radiance.

    *'Big Daddy' Hydrangea makes an impact with huge blooms from early summer through fall. Since this shrub grows up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide, it's a natural privacy screen in the shade.

    *Yewtopia® Plum Yew is heat resistant, drought tolerant, and shade loving! Bring intrigue into the garden by complementing Yewtopia's succulent texture with Soft Caress® Mahonia's feathery texture.

    *'Soft Caress' Mahonia is low growing (3' H x 3.5' W) with feathery foliage and yellow flowers that bloom in early winter.

Sun to part shade plants will perform quite well in the shade if planted on the east side of the landscape or garden - the low and bright morning sun gives these plants exactly what they need to thrive. They will also do well when growing at the edges of the leaf canopy. The Southern Living® Plant Collection sun to part shade plants include annuals, perennials, fall and spring bulbs, ornamental grasses, trees, and shrubs. Here are a few ideas for incorporating some of these plants in your shade garden:

   *Fall and Spring Bulbs can be used as low borders or they can be a seasonal part shade garden all on their own. For example, bloom through the seasons with spring bloomers Golden Dawn and Grand Primo Narcissus, summer bloomers Ellen Bosanquet Crinum and Zephyranthes Pink Rain Lily, and fall bloomers Red Spider Lily and Oxblood Lily.

    * Bring size to the shade garden with Bigfoot™ Cleyera and Delta Jazz® Crapemyrtle.

    * Use a variety of shrubs for taller borders to contain the shade garden. Try one of the new Camellia varieties like October Magic® Orchid™ Camellia or Purple Diamond® Compact Loropetalum.