Shade Flowers – A Beginner Botanist’s Guide to Shade Gardening

Shade Flowers – Plants for the Dark Side of Your Garden

Shade flowers are those plants which prefer or grow well in reduced lighting. This can be underneath a tree, next to a wall or fence, or somewhere that does not get a great deal of light. Although it is possible to get by solely with sun-friendly plants, it is best to use shade flowers in areas that are suited to their growth.

This can allow you to grow a beautiful garden where it might seem that most species would be stunted by the lack of light. Although all species of plant are designed to absorb light from the sun as part of the process of photosynthesis, many have evolved to exist in low-light areas present about the world. Whether this is under a rocky overhang, in a forest, or on a part of the planet with unusually short days, these plants are capable of thriving where others can only wilt and die.

Shade Flowers – Things to Consider before you Start

When planting a garden predominantly featuring shade flowers, you must first take into consideration the size, location and surrounding features of the space you will be using. How much shade does the area get? If the area is permanently dark (perhaps due to the presence of a very large tree), you will need to pick full shade flowers rather than those that prefer semi-sun.

If you will be planting shade flowers around a tree, you need to be aware of the fact that a tree absorbs a large amount of nutrients and water from the soil. Your plants will be competing with the tree, and the tree will most certainly emerge victorious in the contest. This can be avoided by spacing out the garden as much as possible away from the base of the tree trunk, or by adding several inches of organic material.

If you have time, the best way to do this is to collect leaves from the tree, cut them into coin-sized pieces with a bagging lawnmower, and then spread them under the tree. Sprinkle them with compost activator to keep them moist. Repeat the process for several years until worms have had a chance to move in to complete the conversion of the soil by loosening it with their tunneling. It’s a long time to wait, but will allow you to grow the highest quality shade flowers in your garden.

If you don’t have several years to wait, alternatives such as peat moss can be a good choice. It will also lend an enjoyable smell to the area (unless you find the scent of a bog a bit overpowering, in which case you may wish to seek other alternatives).

When it comes to the shade flowers themselves, we recommend that you pick ones with white, yellow, or very pale blossoms. This will help them to stand out from the shadows and will contrast nicely with the reduced light of the area. Darker flowers of reds and purples will blend in, making them harder to see and enjoy.

Shade Flowers – A List of Recommended Species

We recommend going with a species from this list of shade flowers. We’ve broken it up into category by annuals (yearly planting required), perennials (will live for several if not many years) and ground coverings (low-growing and fast-spreading plants that cover the ground).

· Annuals: Wax begonia, coleus, impatiens, forget-me-nots, pansies.

· Perennials: Celandine poppy, bleeding heart, foxglove, daylilies, hostas, Virginia bluebells, cinnamon fern, creeping phlox, primroses, lungwort.

· Ground Coverings: Ajuga, wild ginger, sweet woodruff, epimendiums, wintercreeper, English ivy, partridgeberry, Japanese pachysandra.

Using a combination of shade flowers from these three categories will help to create a low-light garden that you will love to spend time in. We also recommend including various varieties of ferns, which thrive in shade environments thanks to their rainforest origins. Many of them do well in northern temperate climates.

Shade Flowers – Where to Find More Information

If you have plans to create a low-light garden and are interested in finding out some more helpful information about various shade flowers to plant, or about shade gardening tips in general, searching online is a great option. You can find a wealth of information about the subject, including growing tips for specific species of shade flowers.

You may also wish to stop by a garden center, where the helpful staff will be able to direct you to where the shade flowers are kept, and provide additional advice based on the specifications of your garden that you provide. You can visit your local florist’s shop, as well, as they often carry seeds and, at the very least, will be able to provide a great deal of handy advice. It’s also a great place to find and buy fresh flowers as gifts, which can potentially complete two tasks at once if you are shopping.

Copyright (c) 2008 Brant Florist

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