Color in Shade

Here are some perennial ideas that will add bright touches of color to your shade garden.

yellow ligularia in the shade

Photo: Flatbrush Gardener

The large leaved ligularia with orange or yellow flower spires does well if given sufficient moisture

Gardeners with shade beds are always on the lookout for flowering plants to provide splashes of color.

Shade gardens under deciduous trees often have good filtered light, especially if the trees are limbed up. Maples, however, have shallow matted roots, so are not good hosts for plants beneath them.

Other trees with deeper roots are more hospitable and some flowering plants will flourish beneath them.

Troubles with Shade

Deep shade is challenging and dry shade is always problematic, though epimedium and lamium, if watered well while they establish, will tolerate it.

Shrubs such as rhododendron, and perennials such as hellebores, brunnera, hosta, pulmonaria, fringed bleeding heart and the annual impatiens are often described as the backbone of plantings in shade.

However, there are other perennials to consider.

Adding a Touch of Color

The large leaved ligularia with orange or yellow flower spires does well if given sufficient moisture, and the great lobelias, taller than their annual cousins, have spikes of either deep blue or red.

Additionally the yellow corydalis lutea is a low growing exuberant self sower with ferny leaves. Astrantia major, commonly known as masterwort has white, pink or red blooms.

And don’t forget tiarella and the hardy begonia ‘Evansia’ with pretty leaves and pink flowers in late summer and fall.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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