One of the most common problems for gardeners is how to manage shade. Most gardens will experience some sort of shade throughout the day and the worry is that plants won’t respond well to little or no sunlight.
However, contrary to popular belief, there are some plants that thrive in the shade. Julian Palphramand, Shrubs, specimen plants & roses buyer from Wyevale Garden Centres, lists 10 shade-loving plants that will flourish in your garden. This is his/her selection:
1) Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris (self clinging climber)
This low maintenance climber is perfect for shady, north-facing walls or areas with little to no sun.
In midsummer it bears huge, flattened heads of white hydrangea flowers and glossy green leaves.
Plant care: grow in moist but well-drained soil
2) Lamium maculatum White Nancy (spotted deadnettle)
This low maintenance, fully hardy, semi-evergreen perennial produces carpets of silvery leaves with bright green edges. From spring until autumn (April to June) it also produces white flower clusters.
It grows well in full and partial shade and in most well drained soils (chalk, clay, loam or sand) or multipurpose and soil based composts. Its ultimate height is 0.1m – 0.5m.
Plant care: in late winter, trim back to keep tidy.
3) Skimmia confusa ‘Kew Green’
This is a low maintenance evergreen shrub, which has glossy green leaves throughout the year. In spring (April to May) it also produces clusters of creamy white flowers, which open from white buds and smell lovely!
It’s happy in full or partial shade and in moist but well-drained, acidic or neutral soil (loam). Its ultimate height is 0.6m – 1m.
Plant care: no routine care is required, making it a very easy plant to manage!
4) Dryopteris erythrosora var. prolifica
Known as Japanese or copper shield, this variety is one of the most striking and hardy evergreen ferns, which love full or partial shade.
It has luscious, glossy, bright coppery-red new fronds (leaves) throughout the growing season, which then turn pink and eventually rich green.
It thrives in moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil (chalk, clay, loam or sand) and makes a lovely addition to borders.
Plant care: in late winter, cut dead fronds down before new growth starts. Mulch with leaf mould.
5) Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata The King’
This is a highly ornamental Golden male fern. It has arching dark green, evergreen fronds and is an excellent plant for shady places.
Plant in moist but well drained, humus-rich soil (chalk, clay, loam or sand), preferably in partial shade. Ultimate height is 1.1m – 1.5m.
Plant care: in late winter, cut old fronds down before new growth starts.
6) Heuchera Black Beauty
One of the darkest heucheras available, ‘Black Beauty’ has stunning dark red-black ruffled leaves. Clusters of creamy white flowers on wiry stems appear in summer (June to July).
It’s happy in a moist but well drained soil (chalk, clay or loam) in partial shade, but if you want them to show their best colouring they will need some sun. Great in pots and borders, its ultimate height is 0.1m – 0.5m.
Plant care: remove faded flower spikes.
7) Hendera helix ‘Ivy Little Diamond’
This evergreen English ivy is slow-growing and self-clinging. It has diamond-shaped grey-green leaves with creamy-white colouring around the edges. In October to November it produces small, yellow-green flowers, followed by black berries (the berries are poisonous and should be kept aware from humans and pets).
It grows in most soil conditions (chalk, clay, loam or sand) and is perfectly happy in full or partial shade. It’s also great for baskets and containers. Its ultimate height is 1.1m – 1.5m
Plant care: it needs no routine care.
8) Camellia japonica ‘Doctor King’
This is a lovely evergreen shrub, which produces rich, pink flowers with ruffled petals and golden stamens in late winter into spring (February to April), which are offset by glossy evergreen leaves.
It’s happy in light shade, but likes to be sheltered. If it’s in a cold area, plant by a sheltered wall. Plant in moist but well-drained, humus-rich, lime-free soil (loam) or in a container, in ericaceous (lime-free) compost. Its ultimate height is 1.6m – 2.5m.
Plant care: If you plant it in a container, you will need to protect it against frost in cold winters.
9) Rhododendron Baden Baden
This dwarf variety of Rhododendron is very hardy. It has distinctive, slightly twisted dark green leaves and in spring (April to May), produces abundant deep, waxy-red flowers, which bees love.
It’s easy to grow, but the soil (clay, loam or sand) must be moist but well-drained humus-rich and lime-free. It prefers a cool position and doesn’t love full shade, but will be perfectly happy in part-shade. It looks great among other rhododendrons, azaleas, pieris and Japanese maples. Its ultimate height is 0.6m-1m.
Plant care: after it flowers in spring, mulch and feed it with an acid feed and keep it well watered in its first season. Deadheading in the first few years is also a good idea.
10) Viburnum tinus (laurustinus)
This evergreen has neat, dark green foliage and heads of pink buds, which open sporadically to white flowers throughout winter and spring (December to April), providing early and late nectar for bees. These are sometimes followed by blue-black berries.
It is one of the most valuable evergreens if you have deep-shade, though it will flower best if it has some sun. It’s native to the Mediterranean region, but has been grown in Britain for at least 400 years. Its ultimate height is 2.6m – 4m
It thrives in most well drained soils (chalk, clay, loam or sand) and ideally sheltered from cold winds. It’s great as a space filler for shrubs, mixed borders and for growing under deciduous trees.
Plant care: during the winter, mulch around the base with a generous layer of manure or compost. It doesn’t need much pruning but if it’s getting too big, trim it after flowering (though this will be at the expense of berries).