Many of you have mostly shade with only a few spots that get some sun during the day. Doing a study of the sun so that you know where these spots are –and what time of day they occur is very important– so that you can target those few precious hours of sun and use them to their fullest potential –and also to make sure that you don’t put plants in those spots that wouldn’t like even a few hours of sun. (If you don’t already know it –the right amount of sun or shade is one of the most important factors that affect the health and beauty of your plants)

This Newsletter is to written to help make your shade gardens beautiful- full of bloom, interest, fragrance and joy! 

A few tips to get you started thinking– 

If you have deep shade under evergreen trees- it is indeed very hard to get plants to bloom or be vigorous -so lifting the trees ( removing lower branches) is a great way to permanently let in enough light to at least make the area bright. Thinning trees is not recommended because this practice will just set the tree canopy up to just ill back in again.

Plants that have colorful foliage are always a plus-even if they don’t bloom. Variegated leaves stand out in shade much better than green leaves. Evergreen shrubs help make the area pretty all year long. Fragrance is always nice.


If you have bright shade or shade from deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter) concentrate on choosing plants that bloom in late winter or early spring-so that the buds are already set before the leaves come on the trees.

Hickley Gold Columbine Candytuft Pink Wood Sorrel Divarcata Phlox

Some extra feeding with one of the specialty fertilizers ( in addition to the program) that add some acid to the soil Like Humalfa Humore, Rabbit Hill Farm Bunny Trails, Natures Guide Rose Food , Nature’s Guide Azalea & Gardenia food or Soils Alive Yum Yum will also make up for the lack of sun and pop out those blooms. I like to do any special feeding between the months that I am applying the granular on the program.

Some great plant choices for constant bright shade, shade under deciduous trees, dappled shade and early morning sun only 

Small Trees with colorful leaves- 

Japanese Maples– bloodgood has great reddish purple color but many will do well here.

Pansy Forest Redbud– large purple heart shaped leaves that follow early pink blooms

Saucer Magnolia-A small deciduous magnolia with large pink spring blooms the size of saucers

Soft green leaves in Summer

Large Shrubs- 

Ebbingei Elaeagnus-it has all the perks for any kind of shade or sun-it’s evergreen leaves are shiny and dotted with silver flecks and in the fall it produces tiny blooms that smell like vanilla and turn into olives for the birds. Best kept at 5’X5’ will reach 9’

Variegated Pittosporum-Another evergreen super star with creamy vanilla edges along the thick shiny leaves. Tiny fragrant flowers. Can be kept 4’X4’ but will grow larger to reach 6’

Original Endless Summer Hydrangea-not evergreen but those big multicolored blooms-all summer — make up for it! Hydrangeas like living on the edge of shade.

4’ X4’ 5

Small Shrubs- 

Wheelers Dwarf Pittosporium-evergreen shiny dark green leaves with tiny fragrant flowers


Sun Gold Hypericum- small deciduous shrub with fuzzy gold flowers start in early summer


Everblooming Veitchii Gardenia-This smaller flowering gardenia has proven very hardy here if given some protection from the north-it has small fragrant gardenia scented blooms

can be kept 3X3 6


Great Perennials 18”-2’ 

Ever green Ferns- 

Autumn Fern Holly Fern

Heuchera-Coral Bells-come in every leaf color

Hostas come in showy leaf colors too-the larger ones are best-especially the big blue ones-many are fragrant 7

Phlox is pretty and fragrant

Bright Eyes is a long lasting paniculata phlox

Gold Columbine has pretty blue green leaves

Hinckley or Texas Gold are good varieties here

Lenten Rose Hellebore is evergreen unusual and gorgeous

Some Pretty Groundcovers for shade are–

Golden Purple, Georgia Blue, Pink Wood, Moneywort, Shamrock, Speedwell, Sorrel 8

Now lets’ address that spot in a shady garden where it is shady most of the day but gets several hours ( 3-4) of either hot mid-day sun or late afternoon sun. This can be a hard spot to find a plant for-below are some that will do great-

There are a few Roses that will bloom very well –if you get at least 3 hours of some sun-anytime of day-can you believe it!!!

Dame de Coeur Lady Banks Vanity

Shrub rose Climbing Rose Climbing Rose

That’s not all-below are some really pretty perennials that also thrive

Autumn Aster Pink Skullcap Powis Castle Blackfoot Daisy

Katy Ruellia Gold Lantana Purple Heart Jew Salvia Farinacea

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