Home & Garden

Shade Gardening Beyond Hostas

115f045c0f8252693047_Shade_garden_3_photo_credit_Melinda_Myers_LLC.jpg
Utilize a variety of shade-tolerant plants in shade gardens to add beauty and interest to the landscape. Credits: Melinda Myers, LLC
115f045c0f8252693047_Shade_garden_3_photo_credit_Melinda_Myers_LLC.jpg

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - A shady spot provides welcome relief from the summer heat; but it can make growing a beautiful garden a bit more challenging. Take heart, your landscape may receive more sunlight than you suspect and if not, there are quite a few shade-tolerant plants you can grow.

Evaluating the sun and shade patterns throughout the day, season, and year is a good place to start. Sun-loving bulbs need lots of sun early in the season before most trees leaf out, while other plants need sunlight throughout the growing season. If you work all day, you may assume those shady spots in the morning and evening never light up, so take some time to evaluate the sun and shade conditions throughout the season.

Make a list of plants that you have had success with and those that failed in the shady location. Use these to help you select or avoid plants with similar light requirements.  For example, if peonies bloom and tomatoes produce fruit this area receives quite a bit of sunlight, perhaps more than you thought.

Sign Up for E-News

If your landscape is too shady to grow the plants you desire, try increasing the sunlight reaching ground level plantings. Hire a certified arborist to thin the overhead tree canopy. They have the training and experience to do the job safely and correctly. You don’t want to damage the health and structure of established trees, so critical to the beauty of your landscape.

If there’s too much shade to grow even shade-loving plants, consider mulch to keep the mud in place, permeable pavers and a table or chair for relaxing, or a few steppers and moss to create a moss garden.

Once you’ve made your selections and planted your garden, you need to adjust the care to compensate for the limited light conditions. Plants growing under large trees or overhangs need to be watered more often, especially the first year or two until they become established. The dense canopy of many trees and impervious overhangs prevent rainfall from reaching the ground below. Plus, the extensive root systems of trees and shrubs absorb much of the rainfall that does make it through, so check soil moisture several times a week and water thoroughly as needed.

Tree and shrub roots can also compete with plantings for nutrients. Use a low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer like Milorganite (milorganite.com) that promotes steady above and below ground growth. The 85% organic material further helps improve the soil. Apply slow release fertilizers at planting and once again for annuals mid-season. Fertilize new and established perennials in early spring and again in mid-summer as needed.

Avoid high nitrogen, quick release fertilizers that promote lush succulent growth that is more susceptible to insects and diseases. And with limited light as a potential plant stressor, this can increase the risk of problems.

When planting under or near trees be careful not to kill them when creating your shade garden.  Adding as little as an inch of soil over the roots can kill some tree species. And deep cultivation can damage the feeder roots critical for water and nutrient absorption since the majority grow within the top 12 inches of soil.

Here is a list of just a few shade-tolerant perennials to consider. As always make sure the plants also tolerate your region’s climate. And once you start reviewing the internet and plant catalogues you may find it difficult to narrow down your choices to fit in your new shade garden.

Woodland Wildflowers


Spring Flowering Bulbs

Grape hyacinths

Checkered lilies

Camassia

Daffodils

Virginia Bluebells
 

Perennial Flowers

Ajuga

Astilbe 

Barrenwort (Epimedium)

Bleeding Heart

Bugbane/Snakeroot (Actaea)

Columbine

Coral Bells

Deadnettle (Lamium)

Ferns

Foam flower (Tiarella)

Ginger (Asarum)

Hostas

Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa)

Lungwort

Sedges

Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera)

Variegated Solomon Seal

Toadlily (Tricyrtis)

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Montclair

Former Jefferson School Staffer Facing Criminal Charges For Alleged Lewd Photos of Students

June 21, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - A former Jefferson Elementary School paraprofessional has been charged with criminal behavior believed to be related to lewd photos of students at the school that were found on his cell phone after he was arrested in Morris County on an unrelated sexual charge.

It also appears that South Orange Maplewood School District officials knew about the arrests as early as ...

NJ Native and Children Shot in Colorado Road Rage Incident: Child Dies

June 22, 2018

WESTMINSTER, COLORADO: A native of Colts Neck, NJ and her children were attacked in a road rage shooting that left her 13 year old son dead and both her and another child injured. A third child was able to run to safety.

Jeremy Webster, 23, was charged with first degree murder, extreme indifference; three counts of attempted first-degree murder; three counts of first-degree assault ...

Montclair Police Blotter: Thai Chef Burglarized, Four iPhones Stolen and More

June 13, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ -  The following police blotter was compiled by the Montclair Police Department on June 12, 2018:

Burglary/Theft:

06-05-2018 (Union Street) Burglary to an apartment.  Cash was taken in this incident.  Access was gained through an unlocked rear door.  

06-05-2018 (Union Street) Theft of a scooter from the rear yard of a residence.

06-05-2018 (Elm ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

Montclair July 4th Celebrations to Honor Township's Sesquicentennial

June 22, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair is celebrating July 4th with a special 150th anniversary themed parade and fun-packed family picnic – expanded to mark the Township's sesquicentennial in style. The day’s events will be followed by evening fireworks at Yogi Berra Stadium on the Montclair State University campus. The parade and picnic are free, admission to the stadium will be $3 ...