Shade Loving Perennials

Shade Loving Perennials

Shade loving perennials are a must for almost any landscape!

Almost everyone has at least one spot in their yard on the north side of a building, or under a group of trees, that could use a little pizzaz.  These 5 top shade lovers are many a gardener’s favorites!

1.  Hosta

Hosta has got to be one of the top ranking !  Although they don’t come without their controversy…you either love them (and by “love them” I mean you’re obsessed with them) or you can’t stand them and don’t get why everyone else is so crazy about them.

It’s rare that I meet a plant that brings out this much emotion in people.

Personally, I’m a lover of these beautifies.  And if you love one, you will love more!

There is almost an infinity of variety in the hosta plant!  You will find hostas that differ on each one of the following characteristics:

  • height
  • width
  • leaf shape, color and texture
  • flower height, color and bloom time
  • patented and non-patented
  • amount of sun each one tolerates

They can be as short as 6 inches or over 3 feet tall!  They may have more of a mounding formation, or they may spread quite a bit.  Many do not tolerate sun, however there are newer varieties that thrive in it.

And on and on and on.

Hosta

This pictures shows SOME of the variety in hosta, but really only scratches the surface.

Generally, you’ll find hosta in 2 predominant areas:

  1. along a border garden located in shade
  2. in a perennial garden located in shade

Meaning, there might be a row of them planted snuggly along the shady side of a house, or you may find a decorative grouping of them under a large tree in a yard.

Some are more suited to the row concept, and others function as good specimen plants, that are mounding in nature, and would not look as nice planted in a row.

The hosta pictured here is a good example of a specimen hosta.  It is actually planted out in the full sun amount other perennials and bushes.  Originally it was planted under a large magnolia tree, which ended up dying.  Happily, this hosta adjusted to it’s new space nicely!

You’ll notice if your hosta is receiving too much by the tips of the leaves turning brown, especially during the long days of summer.  This hosta has a tendency to do that, but overall, it has done well.

Grouping together numerous hosta under a tree, not only creates a beautiful garden, but protects the trees from lawn mower damage.  If you’re planning to create this type of grouping, be sure to use cover the area with some variety, but not too much.  You might like 1-2 focal point hosta, and then 3 other varieties for which 3 plants are placed closer together.  I have see some gardens where only one of each hosta is planted, and it lacks luster as the specimens do not show as well.

Hosta are easy to find on the web, at local garden centers, and at neighborhood sales.  Ask your friends if they are planning to “divide” any of their hosta in the near future.

Try jazzing up your hosta garden even further by planting tulips around the area.  Hosta take awhile to emerge in spring, and the tulips will initially steel the show.  As they die back, the hosta will take center stage!

Once hostas are established in
an area, they are VERY self-sufficient, requiring little to no
maintenance
. I love it!!


2.  Fern

Ostrich Fern is another one of the that I have naturalized into my own backyard landscape.
This plant produces tall, sturdy leaves that remain in a standing
position throughout the growing season. Each crown produces several
offshoots year after year, allowing you to produce a healthy grouping
from a small number of plants in a few short years.

This fern is one of many !

I have seen this plant for sale at many local nurseries, however do yourself a favor…if you want to add this plant to your backyard landscape design, ask your friends and neighbors. Chances are very good that they have several in their yard which they would be happy to share.

Left unattended, these plants will fill up a shady corner quite nicely with little to no maintenance. Some people like to plant a low-growing vine
around the ferns to prevent weeds, however I have noticed that this is
not necessary. As long as you are willing to keep the weeds at bay for
the first few years, the ferns will fill in the entire area if given the
opportunity. (Tip: They happen to like partly sunny locations as
well!) There are other fern varieties available, but the Ostrich Fern
is one of the more common, at least in the Midwest United States.


3.  Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart plants are another one of the . The typical plant has pink flowers
with white tips, although there are some all white flowering types
available. This plant grows to about 3 feet in height, although there
are some dwarf varieties available. This is a classic favorite for many
gardeners.


4.  Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley is not one of my personal favorites, however
I’m discussing it here because many people enjoy this plant. Lily of
the Valley looks like short tulip leaves that sport these tiny white flowers in the center. The fragrance
is pleasing, and these are fans of the deep
shade and have a healthy spreading habit. I don’t particularly care for
them because they don’t do much, and depending on where they’re
planted, they can be invasive. Decide for yourself! They are often
seen naturalized in shady areas alongside Ostrich Ferns.


5.  Astilbe

Astilbe come in all shapes and sizes and colors, and are beautiful when planted among hosta!


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