Shade plant suggestions

blue_canNovember 25, 2010

Looking for some ideas for plants to grow in a shaded area. The area is about 5' X 2' just next to the house in my backyard. The sun at its closest falls about a foot away and for a brief while (not measured exact time) there is some dappled sunlight. Assuming no sunlight I'm looking for ideas on what best to plant here.

I'm in San Diego btw about 10 miles from the coast.

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I have a little strip along the side of my house that only gets direct sun briefly at the height of summer. It's unirrigated, and the soil is sandy. I have some clivia plants there, and they appear to be very happy. You might also look at native or hybrid heucheras.
What kind of soil do you have? Is there irrigation?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 11:47AM
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Thanks - I will check out the plants suggested.

Yes, there is irrigation - I recently remodelled my whole backyard and in the process I ran irrigation under the concrete slab to this area. It is connected via 3/4" pipe and then reduced to 1/2" and then further to 1/4" where I plan to use 1/4" drippers to the plant. The system is connected to the main control system and the little area has its own zone and program.

As far as soil I removed soil upto about 1' deep and replaced with some good planting mix and loam soil. We have heavy clay soil and big rocks so it's not the best soil for plants.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 1:19PM
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You can grow ginger lilies, they have nice-looking tropical leaves. Mine looks great and blooms longest out of all sun (on the north side of a fence with a tree above it), and smells delicious. Not sure of the exact type, but where you live you can grow many gingers. Consult a knowledgeable nearby nursery for advice on specific cultivars. They may tell you you need some sun to bloom, but don't believe them. Just select a good bloomer with nice form, that can take low light, and meet its needs in other respects. Even when not in bloom, the foliage is the greatest, especially in so CA.

You can grow a Madagascar Jasmine! A neighbor of mine grew one beautifully where it got almost no sun; in a cabana (under a roof) under trees.

Calla Lilies will also grow and bloom with no direct sunlight. I like the giant white, for they're so vigorous. Haven't had much luck with the pastel hybrids. It may be my cooler climate. The hybrids may grow for you in your shady spot, they're smaller but very pretty.

Other suggestions: ferns, and Hosta. You could also grow a magnificent Jade tree.

Please, tell us what you decide.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 3:30PM
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Thanks for the suggestions rozegardener. I will investigate those suggestions. Yes, I will post back with pics of what I end up planting.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 9:44PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Clivia, cast iron plant, leatherleaf ferns, acorus, baby tears, hellebores, orchids, violets, campanula, echeverrias.
Can you tell I have been making a list for my shade bed?
My calla lilies flop in this much shade, so I have taken them out and I am trying ferns and clivias instead. I like the cast iron plants too, but they are expensive. There are some azaleas that grow in shade, I think. Mother-in-law tongue is interesting sometimes. There may be some bromeliads that will do well there.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 12:24AM
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The only time my callas have flopped was when I let them dry out, or if they suffered a freeze. Mine bloomed consistently and looked perfect in full (but not the very deepest) shade. I wouldn't advise planting them in sandy soil, too hard to keep it consistently moist; but a richly amended clay soil, deeply dug is perfect.

Notsuperwoman, in your zone I'm pretty sure you can consider plants that are houseplants to the rest of us, like Monstera Philodendron, or Coleus.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 3:43AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Classic southern California/San Diego shade plantings would include the Calla lily, Foxtail Asparagus, Clivia miniata, Chamaedorea microspadix, Aucuba japonica, Camellia sasanqua, Abutilon cultivars, Aspidistra, Fatsia japonica, Trachelospermum jasminoides, Carex morrowii 'Evergold', Acorus gramineus 'Ogon', Carex 'Sparkler', Astelia nivicola 'Red Gem', Begonia species and hybrids, Ligularia, Francoa sonchifolia and F. ramosa, Ruellia macrantha, Dianella intermedia, Dianella ensifolia, Nandina domestica 'Harbour Dwarf', Justicia carnea, Cuphea species and cultivars, to name just a few. Bromeliads such as Billbergia nutans, Aechmea fasciata, Billbergia vittata, Aechmea nudicaulis would all do well here as well.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 7:11PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Hellebores are nice, too.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 12:24AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I have several hydrangeas growing well in a similar exposure but not in San Diego. Why would they not do well there? Al

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 7:47AM
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musaboru(Inland Calif.)

Now, can anyone suggest a cheap, low growing plant that will fill up a shaded area fast? The soil there is quite hard and not many weeds have volunteered there yet. Would prefer something that is somewhat drought tolerant, but not a must.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 4:50PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Violets or campanula.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 12:42AM
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I went to the nursery and saw some of the suggested plants including the Madagascar Jasmine. It seems like it grows quite tall. I forgot to mention that I have windows against this area so I'm looking for something that won't grow more than about a foot or two in height.

Is it possible to grow something edible in this area - herbs or peppers. I saw a pepper plant - quite pretty and said it could grow in shade on the label - I was almost sold on it until I realized that it was inedible according to the label.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 1:43AM
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Blue Can:

If you grew the Madagascar Jasmine on a trellis around your window, that would be exquisite! It's an easy to train vine.

You need a bit of sun to grow even most shade-loving edibles. However, if you get even a couple hours for even part of the year, or dappled shade, there are quite a few greens and herbs you can grow. I once planted onions and tomatoes in a bed together, and the tomatoes grew so tall and thick I forgot about the onions entirely, and didn't remove the dead vines until the next spring. To my amazement, there was a good crop of mature full-sized onions underneath the vines that grew in nearly total shade, and they were excellent. So definitely try onions, mine were sets, not seed.

Here is a link to get you started:

You might find, in the spring or summer, that you do have sun over part of the area for part of the year. Then if you have started some plants in pots in a sunnier place, you can move them to your semi shaded area. I have houseplants that don't get much sun, every once in a while, especially if they look piqued, I take them to a sunnier area until they perk up, then back to the dungeon!

Straw Berries will grow and fruit without much sun. Spinach will also, I believe. I like the wrinkly savoy type best. Lemon Balm will take plenty of shade, and is a lovely plant, make a good tea, and good for adding to flower arrangements. Chervil is a French herb that prefers shade.

Lady's Mantle is a nice shady ground cover, and it doesn't need a lot of water.
If you go with violets, do careful research and get the right variety, because they're very invasive.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 4:34PM
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Thanks again rozegardener for the detailed response. All the reserach I did seemed to suggest most edibles need a good amount of sun. So I ended up planting 2 plants which when grown should fully occupy this area. The first is a Begonia Fuchsioides. The second one I do not have the exact name - the nursery I got it from does not seem to label the pot but the best I recall is something like "Green and Yellow". The plants is colored green and yellow. I liked to look of both plants.

I was mistaken in saying it is a shade area - it does get some morning sun (maybe about an hour or two). In the summer it will be dappled as it shines through a honeysuckle growing above.

Anyway here are a couple of photos

At night

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 10:27PM
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