Container annuals for part shade?

cranebill(6)February 17, 2007


I'm looking for suggestions for annuals that I can grow in mixed containers in part shade. I've been growing annuals and perennials for years, but I can't think of any annuals that are ideally suited to what I have in mind. I think that "ideal" might be an impossibility, but what I'm ideally seeking are annuals that are not too garish (e.g. tuberous begonias), nor too common (e.g. impatiens), bushy and/or cascading, have spring through fall interest (a tough one!), can withstand several weeks of summer heat and humidity, and - most importantly - will be fairly floriferous or have a colorful foliage display in part shade. I would certainly be open to compromise on any of these qualities, and would consider perennials as well.

I've been thinking of dwarfish nicotiana, and that's about all I can come up with. There must be more!? I love calibrachoa but I think it would languish in shade, and likewise New Guinea impatiens. I enjoy starting plants from seed, so that expands the possibilities a little, I guess.

Thanks very much for any suggestions you might have.


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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Actually, New Guinea Impatiens do *beautifully* in part-shade and actually will tolerate fuller shade, but not complete full shade.

Have you considered browallia? One of my favorite annuals, lovely in part-shade and a great alternative to impatiens.

Depending on how much light is available, heliotrope is also wonderful in part-shade - just be careful it's not too much shade, if the area gets at least 4 hours sun heliotrope will do fine, and oh the fragrance! A must-have for me, I have some in full sun and some in part-shade every year, and they do great either way.

You might consider combinations instead of pots of just one annual. Say, some elephant ears or caladium for foliage interest with some browallia or impatients to fill in the low areas, something along those lines.

IMO part-shade (4-5 hours of sun) is ideal - a lot of sun plants do fine (but not all) as do the majority of part-shade and shade lovers. You have so many possibilities!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 11:32AM
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Torenia, torenia, torenia. But only the Proven Winners selections. I used to grow the old Clown series and it was nothing to write home about. But the PW selections are spectacular. Solid mass of bloom the entire season with no work except frequent Miracle Grow or other liquid fertilizer. No pests, diseases, deadheading, staking. These cascade down and are magnificent. I grow 'Summer Wave Blue' and 'Amethyst' (relying on memory). And the PW plants are far superior to any others I've tried. Mine are in containers--never tried them in the ground.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2007 at 9:12AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I agree on the torenia. How about fuschia, and mimulus (monkey flower)? Personally, I adore tuberous begonias. If you don't like the "garish" colors, there are some gorgeous apricot/champagne colored ones, or even white. There's always coleus and caladiums, although you may consider these common also. Lobelia does well for me in part shade, as does nemesia, and both cascade nicely.

If you are open to perennials, that gives you a huge selection to work with. Hostas are wonderful in pots, and you can even have a mixed planting just with hostas - small, large, greens, blues, variegated. I know - common! - but there are several beautiful, more unusual hostas to work with. Columbines, lady's mantle, astilbe, geraniums, hechera/hecherella, tiarella, (these last two are great foliage plants), and daylilies all do well in part shade.

BTW, what are you calling part shade - how many hours? I even have some roses in part shade that do quite well.

P.S Carex is a nice grass that does well in shade, and will give a nice spikey accent to pots.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2007 at 1:45PM
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Hey, thanks so much for the wonderful suggestions. Now my problem is a matter of too many choices! I'm imagining how my containers will look planted with various combinations of the plants you've all suggested. What fun! Thanks again.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 8:14AM
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hopflower(z8/z15 CA Sunset)

Snapdragons and columbine do well in partial shade as well. At least where I live; I have them both in half barrels in morning sun and afternoon shade for about 3 hours.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 10:15AM
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I know it's an herb, but I grow borage for its cascading habit, velvety foliage, and stunning pale blue flowers. I do use it to make tea or add to salads (and borage oil is near the top of the list of "silver bullet" natural remedies for all sorts of ills, ahead of garlic), but I mainly grow it for its beautiful ornamental qualities.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 12:43PM
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I really like the new coleus that are out, I've had lot's of luck with those. I did the giant exhibition mix last year in deep shade and they looked great. I even started them from seed they were really easy to grow.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 9:33AM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

I have done coleus and browelia and potato vine in a pot on my steps that gets sun only in the morning for a few hours. Of course this combo really hit its stride after mid summer but I have violas there in the spring until late June.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 7:49PM
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Salvia coccinea varieties do very well for me under shade trees. And I love lobelia and torenia. I think there are a few perennial ferns that would fit the bill--also astilbe has seasonal interest-- I guess this would be for another forum.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 11:10AM
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marcy345(6 WA)

Hi, I've never looked at this forum before and got on here to find out info on Red Flax. I saw this and had to contribute. I've had many pots of annuals over the years and I think my favorite was one of Coleus and Impatiens. I used a maroon Coleus with orange in it and light orange impatiens. It was beautiful. Just my two cents.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 8:02PM
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Most of my containers are sun, but I plan on doing some shade ones this year. I've been inspired by the Proven Winners website, click on Combinations, they show hundreds of pots with the "recipes" of what is planted where! I could look at them for hours.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 8:30PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

I definitely second or third the torenia!-I'm not much of one for annuals, but I've been trying a few, at the urging of my boss (I work at a garden center) & the torenia were a winner last summer, in shade, in a small raised bed under a maple, w/ terrible soil. Pansies also last a long time, but only in cool weather.

In sun, snapdragons, angelonia, coleus,callibrachoa,dichondra, & ipomea can't be beat...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 2:55PM
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