Posts Tagged ‘shade gardening’
I’m going to share with you a garden TIP on growing Heucheras (Coral Bells) that has help me improve my success growing this popular garden plant.
Ever since all those new foliage colors in Coral Bells have come out – I’ve been sucked into this coral bell craze. The wide color range, neat habit and tiny spikes of flowers are perfect for tucking in borders, along pathways and containers.
But here are a few guidelines I’ve used in the past few years that have worked for me when deciding on what trendy foliage color to use and where I’m going to place it.
Plant in good, well drained soil where it will receive a minimum of 1″ water a week.
1) Dark foliage types – are more sun tolerant. Berry Smoothie Coral Bells is ravishing in this garden bed – soaking in the rays and looking brilliant.
Plant in: full sun or morning shade and afternoon sun.
2) Light foliage types – need protection from hot afternoon sun. Even with that said, by August the foliage color
will still fade.
Plant: Morning sun, afternoon shade
You will have different results depending on what region of the country you are from, but for me in my Michigan garden, these simply guidelines really help me enjoy Heucheras even more.
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.
Have you ever noticed how poorly some plants do beneath trees and tall shrubs? Tree roots can easily zap away moisture and nutrients leaving anything under planted looking weary & tired.
Rather than fight with it, select from a group of care-free plants that can take dry shade conditions and have minimal requirements when it comes to nutrients & moisture.
I particularly love Hellebores for this. When I planted seven of these early spring flowering ground covers last fall I thought I’m not sure if they are all going to make it. I dug pretty hard to get in between a few tree roots and there wasn’t a lot of soil for me to work with. I added some topsoil, mulched and watered well and to my amazement they all made it through next spring.
I do like planting spring flowering plants such as Hellebore in the fall. Plants still grow in the fall because soil temperature and moisture levels are usually at a level that promotes rapid root growth needed to sustain plants through the first critical year in the landscape. So by spring I’ll have larger more established plants and more blooms to enjoy that first year.
Hellebores is a terrific solution if you have dry shade in your perennial garden. In addition to the beautiful spring flowers, hellebore is the perfect deer resistant shade plant with evergreen foliage which provides year round interest.
Need a fast spreading drought proof groundcover that will grow beneath trees?
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.
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.
- 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
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 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.