Difficult sun/shade location looking for plant that fits

psuperb1(9 Tucson)June 6, 2010

The location is bounded by house on south and 6-ft wall on east side. Car needs to be parked in this area so there is only about a 6-ft strip of space north of house to grow plants in.

Last September, I planted an Aloe (vera or barbadensis) and an Agave geminiflora in the SE corner where the house and wall meet. I don't think the aloe is going to make it.

Here is the problem. At the height of summer, there is full direct sunlight. At the height of winter, there is full shade and only indirect sunlight. I've looked at lists of plants that grow in shade but I believe these lists are for consistently shady areas not subject to full sun a good part of the year.

Come September, I'll be looking for some candidate plants to either fill in around or replace the aloe/agave. Does anyone have a similar situation? What plants have you found to grow under these extreme conditions?

Thanks.

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lazy_gardens

How about a nice mural? :)

"At the height of summer, there is full direct sunlight. At the height of winter, there is full shade and only indirect sunlight." That is a very tough combination, especially with intense reflected heat.

A winter-deciduous vine on a trellis? Queen's Wreath

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 1:08PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I have the same situation at my place. The north facing wall of the house, complete shade all winter, intense all-day sun in summer.

I have planted some cactus in this spot and they are doing okay. Agave's mostly. I'm trying to make it a 'rock garden'. The blank wall of the house certainly is ugly. I may just decorate the wall with garden art stuff.

It's a tough spot alright.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 1:47PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I've got the same exposure in part of my front yard--you're right, it's not easy to find the right fit. I've had very good luck with two hesperaloes (Hesperaloe parviflora aka "red yucca"), a nice African "ocotillo" (Alluadia procera), and a pereskia (Pereskia grandifolia). After three years in their current spots they've all done really well.

They might get too fat/wide for your spot, but as far as exposure goes, they're doing great. They're each planted just a foot or so north of the tall wall that blocks them from the south. I think what works best is that the pereskia and the alluadia are dormant in the winter, so don't seem to care that much that it's shady. The pereskia can get wide, but tolerates pruning really well. I water all of the plants once a week when the pereskia and alluadia are awake and growing, and then maybe once every six weeks (hesperaloe on the same regime) when they're dormant.

Let us know what you try and how it works out.
Take care,
Grant

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 3:14PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Oh, by the way, I just saw you're in Tucson--I'd be sure to check the local hardiness of the Alluadia in your area. Your winters are cooler than ours (but your summers are cooler too, LOL, so it evens out) so I'm not sure if the alluadia is winter hardy in your area, but hesperaloe and the pereskia should definitely be.

Do keep us posted. I'm eager to see what other plants folks have tried in this sort of exposure. And like Lazy said, mural would be lovely too, LOL.

Take care,
Grant

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 3:19PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Thanks for those suggestions Grant. What's your favorite cactus nursery in Phx? I like Bach's in Tucson but can't get there often enough.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 3:38PM
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psuperb1(9 Tucson)

Thanks everyone. That's a lot more feedback than I was expecting. Sorry y'all have to deal with the same problem.

Lazygardens, landlady would have a cow if I tried the mural route. Ha-ha. A winter deciduous vine is great idea. Will look at Queen's Wreath.

Marymcp, I'm hoping the Agave geminiflora survives as I read that it can adapt to either full sun or full shade (but can it adapt to alternating sun/shade?). Also will look for a cactus that might be able to adapt. B&B Cactus Farm is my favorite nursery for C&S. Have had pretty good luck with Desert Survivors for other plants. Haven't tried Bach's because it's a long way to go. Will have to make a point of getting there.

Grant, the Hesperaloe parviflora sounds like a tantalizingly simple solution. Have two already but hadn't considered it for the rough spot. Will also have a look at pereskia.

Things may not be as bleak as I thought for the tough little corner area. Thanks for all the suggestions. Continued good luck with your similar situations.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:08AM
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tracydr(9b)

What about some hibiscus?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 6:22PM
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lazy_gardens

Tracy - Hibiscus would fry along a west-facing wall.

They need morning sun here.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 11:01PM
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psuperb1(9 Tucson)

Thank you, all, for suggestions and comments. Arizona Gardening Forum always comes through. I've decided to stick with something in the cactus and succulent group. Another twin-flower agave or red yucca. Still trying to determine if there is a cactus that will survive there.

Lazygardens, afte reading up on Queen's wreath, it's beautiful but more vine than I think I could handle. It certainly fits the bill for the full-sun summer/full-shade winter circumstance. Does yours attract a lot of bees?

Grant, if you are still following this thread, remember my stunted Cosmos sulphureus? Well, I'm still coaxing them along but losing a couple every so often. I'll be lucky to get a dozen flowering plants from entire seed packet. Next year, Cosmos diablo. Will give up if similar results.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 12:29AM
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tracydr(9b)

There are a bunch of gorgeous hibiscus in our neighborhood growing on western walls. Although since most of the neighborhood is laid out east/west and I'm mostly seeing the front yards I'd say most are on either north or south sides of the house. Mine is on the south but has a large tree to the back of it which causes too much shade. It is just now coming into full bloom.
I'm planning on putting some in the front of my house this fall. They are just my favorite and they failed miserably when I tried them in SW OK. I'll enjoy them while I can here, plan to move back to OK in a few years.
In the meantime, I think I may try to plant more tropicals that I can't enjoy in cooler regions.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 10:57AM
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psuperb1(9 Tucson)

Tracy,

Sounds like you picked the right neighborhood, one with lots of hibiscus. Good to hear the hibiscus in your yard finally is blooming despite the tree blocking a lot of the sunlight. Good luck with the hibiscus you plant in the fall. (I must confess I had to google hibiscus for images to see what they look like. Amazing.)

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 11:45PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Fun thread, keep us posted. I love cosmos by the way, but I just don't think they're that good of performers in most of the desert SW. I'm a huge fan of the small-flowered angustifolia types of zinnias though. I'm growing some Z. 'Highlight' and having great fun. I've done 'Magellin Mixed' the last few years and always had bumper crops of blooms--think about giving them a try if you ever give up on cosmos. :)

And definitely let us know who the lucky winner is on your wall. Below is a not-great pic of one of the alluadias I mentioned growing in very similar conditions. They need help climbing of course.

Mary, I adore Bach's down in Tucson of course--what cactus nut doesn't, LOL? In the Phoenix area I'll buy a cactus or succulent ANYWHERE of course (oink oink) but I have a three-way tie for favorite cactus/succulent nurseries: I do love Desert Foothills Nursery off of Cave Creek Rd just south of the Carefree Highway, and I really love AZ Cactus Sales down in Chandler, and good old Shady Way Nursery out in Apache Junction always has an amazing selection.

Alluadia procera on north-facing wall, shaded from the east and west--full sun in summer, shade in winter.

Take care all,
Grant

Here is a link that might be useful: My alluadia on north-facing wall

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 5:18PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Oh, here's the pereskia by the way. It's still pretty young, but is growing really quickly (I started it as a small cutting 18 months ago). I like the leafy green of the plant in summer, and who can resist the large pink rose-like blooms all summer long, yes, even in shade (hence the common name "rose cactus"). You can see the first bud of the season forming at the bottom right.

Pereskia grandifolia on north facing wall (with some foliage from the hesperaloe sneaking in the pic):

Have fun with your selection and do let us know the winner.

Happy gardening all,
Grant

Here is a link that might be useful: My young pereskia plant on a north facing wall

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 5:23PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Grant, I really like both the 'rose cactus' and especially the alluadia procera. I've heard lots of good things about Shady Way, but it's a long was from NW Phx! I'll check the one at Cave Creek and Carefree Hwy. Tks.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 8:18AM
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psuperb1(9 Tucson)

Grant, your album June 2010 at Picasa is great, so much variety.

It's hard to believe the Pereskia grandifolia is a cactus. I read that it gets up to 18 feet tall. I like the pereskia but, being a renter, I'm trying to stay on smaller scale in keeping with landlady's wishes.

The Alludia procera will likely get too big for the driveway space I'm gardening in. I did notice two of these in my neighborhood the other day. Yes, by north wall.

Contributors to this thread have given me and other readers several options to consider. I'm still leaning toward cactus/succulent or other xeriscape perennial. Not makinig any decisions until fall.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 2:42PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Oooh, good to know Alluadia does well in Tucson, that's good information for future reference, thanks for mentioning it.

It IS hard to believe those pereskia are (primitive/prototype) cacti, isn't it? But they've got all the hallmarks of course: areolas where spines/leaves emerge, gradation between sepals and petals, CAM metabolism (on the stems but not leaves), single stigma and lots of anthers, and fruit with berry-like arrangement of seeds (think watermelon). I actually get stuck by my pereskia more than most cactus since the spines hide behind the big leaves (spring through summer). But you're right, it does get fat/wide.

Mary, none of my favorite C&S places are close to me at all so they are only occasional (but regular) treats. Let us know if you get something.

Take care all,
Grant

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 1:06PM
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