Great Garden Plants - Blog
Home Free Newsletter Top Categories About Us Shop


Posts Tagged ‘Shade Plants’

Coral Bells Garden Design Idea

Coral Bells Rave On

Coral Bells or Heuchera are terrific shade perennials to use beneath a base of a tree. This setting will stay showy throughout the season. (Sedum Flaming Carpet is used as an edging)

Rave On Heuchera (Coral Bells) is a beautiful shade perennial or groundcover – especially when planted in mass as featured here (sent in from Elizabeth – a customer of www.GreatGardenPlants.com)

First of all, we love getting photos of gardens– especially as beautiful and well done as this one.  Secondly, this is a blooming machine so Elizabeth (and the hummingbirds) will enjoy blooms all summer long.  Thirdly, this photo illustrates what a hard working perennial Coral Bells are since not all shade plants will thrive well beneath a base of a tree where it must compete against tree roots.

‘Rave On’ has beautiful silver foliage with bright rose pink flowers that stay attractive all season long. This is a terrific shade perennial that is a work horse in the garden and easy to grow.  If you need that punch of color (both foliage & blooms), try Heuchera ‘Rave On’.  This shade plant will not disappoint you.

Ajuga – Fast Spreading Groundcover for Beneath Trees & Difficult Areas

Need a fast spreading drought proof groundcover that will grow beneath trees?

Chocolate Chip Ajuga is an attractive deer proof groundcover that nestles in nicely between pavers, under trees, and other hard to grow areas in sun or shade

Ajuga or Bugleweed is easy to grow and virtually maintenance free perennial groundcover for hard to grow places.  I’m particularly fond of Chocolate Chip Ajuga (‘Valfredda’) where it can easily cover an 18” area in just one season.  It is one of my favorite ground covers beneath trees where other groundcover struggle and it looks great year-round!

Ajuga is a deer proof evergreen groundcover with vibrant foliage and showy purple flowers in spring. Low growing mats are only 3” tall. Hardy to Zone 4-9,  It thrives in both sun and shade.

Growing anything under trees can be difficult. First of all, trees create a “rain shadow” where it is always drier beneath a tree.  Secondly, some trees such as maples, poplars and willow have heavy feeder roots that rest near the surface, making it virtually impossible to grow, let alone even dig a hole for planting.

Beware of Ajuga Lawn! If planted close to turf, Ajuga will spread into your lawn which becomes difficult to eradicate.

Ajuga is ideal with its  shallow roots that grow within just a few inches of the ground.  It competes effectively between tree roots and drier conditions while spreading quickly by way of runners. Runners are easily removed if it gets beyond its bounds.

Ajuga is not a groundcover for everybody or to be placed in a mixed perennial border.

Ajuga is one of the best groundcovers for weed control. Weeds find it tough to sprout through their thick root system.

Ajuga Tips

  • Avoid “Ajuga lawn” by planting away from  turf or you’ll have a co-mingling of lawn & Ajuga.
  • Don’t plant anything nearby unless you are using beneath shrubs or trees.
  • Thick root system makes Ajuga ideal for erosion control
  • Ideal between pavers
  • Excellent for large areas where you want to have a quick spread
  • Ideal under shallow rooted trees where nothing else will grow

Related Articles

Growing Plants Under Walnut Trees

8 Best Shade Loving Groundcovers

Problem Solving Plants for Slopes & Banks

Where to Shop for Ajuga Chocolate Chip

Climbing Hydrangea – Shade Loving Flowering Vine

Climbing Hydrangeas are one of the few flowering vines that will grow well in shade

Climbing Hydrangea or Hydrangea anomala petiolaris is one of the few hardy flowering vines that will tolerate shade.

This colossal climbing vine requires sturdy support (such as a tree) and thrives in part shade conditions. A fast growing deciduous vine, climbing Hydrangeas will grow 30 feet tall or more.   It is hardy from Zones 4-9.

This climber clings by tentacles (like ivy) on any surface.  It’s easy to train up a tree.  Once planted, simply lay the stems near the tree and it will stick like super glue.  You never have to do anything to them except an occasional prune to keep them within bounds.

Attractive green heart-shaped glossy foliage is accented with showy white fragrant lace-cap type blooms in early summer.

If grown as a ground cover, Climbing Hydrangea can cover up to 200 square feet once established

If grown as a ground cover it can cover up to 200 square feet once established.

Give Hydrangea fertile, moist, well drained soil.

Climbing Hydrangea can take a couple of years to establish itself in the landscape, so it requires a bit of patience.  After 2 years or so, they really take off.  I can tell you it is definitely worth the wait as it offers the most stunning vertical beauty for any shade garden.

Brunnera Jack Frost – 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year – Growing Tips

Silver foliage Brunnera combines effortlessly with so many other shade plants

Since its discovery, Brunnera Jack Frost PP 13,859  has won numerous awards including Perennial Plant of the Year in 2012 and Best New Perennial of the Year at Plantarium, The Netherlands.  Jack Frost has warmed the hearts of many gardeners both new and experienced.   I can’t think of a more beautiful deer proof shade plant and one that is so adaptable in perennial garden design.

Few shade perennials have such interesting silver foliage throughout the season.  This clump forming perennial is  a versatile groundcover grows 15-18″ tall x 15-18″ wide.   Hardy to zone 5 (probably hardier)

In spring, small oblong leaves gradually grow into larger heart-shaped leaves after the conclusion of the flowering period. Beautiful, wispy panicles of sky blue flowers appear in early spring.

How To Grow

  • Does best in moisture retentive soil in part shade.  In my area of the country (Michigan) it can take some pretty dry shade.
  • Plant in area where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade.  Watch for too much sun or hot spots.
  • Don’t worry that the leaves are small in spring – they will get much larger (5-8″ across) as the plant grows.
  • Best in moist soil.  Add 3 inches of mulch to keep moist
  • If you notice crispy leaf edges – plants are getting too dry.  I ofte  cut these leaves all the way back. Plants might stay dormant for a while before flushing out with new foliage growth.
  • Cut back blooms after fading.  Plants stays more attractive that way.

Here’s what you’ll love about this plant

  • Silver shade plant.   Why is that important? Silver infuses light into dark corners of theDeer proof Jack Frost Brunnera for the shade garden shade garden
  • Foliage stays colorful and attractive throughout the season
  • Blue flowers in spring – which compliments spring blooming bulbs
  • Easy to grow – Prefers consistent moisture
  • Low Maintenance
  • Deer & Rabbit Resistant
  • No serious insects or disease issues
  • Late evening gardening – still visible at dusk
  • It’s just plain gorgeous!

Stay tuned for our  hands on Garden Design Tips with Brunnera in our next article

Read more:

Garden Design with Brunnera Jack Frost

Brunnera Jack Frost

Garden Design with Brunnera Jack Frost

Brunnera works well in containers. Here it is combined with Heucherella, Pulmonaria and Ornamental Grasses

When it comes to my favorite shade plant, Brunnera ‘Jack Frost ’ PP13,859 easily comes to the top of my list.  Few shade perennials have such interesting silver foliage through the season.  This clump forming plant is  a versatile deer proof groundcover that is widely adaptable to numerous shade garden designs such as woodland settings, near ponds – even containers.

I can’t think of a more beautiful plant to be named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2012 than Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’.

The foliage resembles crackled porcelain.  In the shade garden it creates a shimmering silver contrast against other companion plants.

Here are a few Garden Design Tips to make Brunnera work for you your shade landscape.

Brunnera is a delightful transition or "filler" plant between shrubs in the landscape

Container Gardening.  This is an easy shade container plant!  I like using big pots when it comes to containers. Keep pots consistently moist.  In the event plants wilt or the foliage begins looking tatty, simply trim off old foliage and new fresh foliage will emerge later.

Transition or Filler Plant.  Brunnera is a delightful shade plant in garden design to transition or fill in between two large shrubs or perennials.  This gives a wonderful flow to the garden.

Pair the gorgeous  Brunnera as an under-planting to  red Japanese Maples. To extend bloom time in the garden pair Spring blooming Brunnera  with summer flowering Hydrangea.

Combine Brunnera with narrow leaf Hakonechloa and radiant yellow Heucherella Stoplight

Dark Foliage Plants.  You can really make dark-leaf Heucheras, Red Coleus or other dark foliage plants pop with color when combined with silver Brunnera. Dark and light foliage plants pair well in garden design.

Leaf Shape Combinations. The heart-shape foliage of Brunnera contrasts with narrow leaf forms of  shade Ornamental Grasses such as  of Hakonechloa or Carex.   I love combining Brunnera with with soft, airy-texture of Ferns.

Brunnera pairs well with dark foliage plants

Have Sun? Plant on the east side of the house, near a large boulder or large plant . Anywhere you can find shade from the afternoon sun.

Brunnera is such a terrific shade plant. I sincerely hope you included it in your garden design plans if you haven’t done so already!

More info:

How To Grow Brunnera

Brunnera Jack Frost – Where to Buy

Buy In Bulk & Save - Shop Now!
Great Garden Plants - e-Newsletter
RSS Feed
Video Library
Pinterest Activity
  • Sedum Little Missy p
  • Sedumsod Mini Mats.
  • Carex Blue Zinger -
  • SedumSod is a 10x20"
  • thyme replaces grass
  • Wedding Ruffles Wint