Colorful shade plants for Indiana

nova62(5)March 27, 2008

Could anyone please help me with some color in my boring shade back yard. All I know is the boring green plants. I need COLOR. I know there are the colius, and hosta and impatients, but is there anything else? Please help.



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Im in the same situationÂupdating a north side entry way always in shade. While looking for ideas, found an 8-page article on color for shade in current issue of Garden Ideas magazine (Spring 08). Shows and describes many brightly colored shade plants, colors available, growing conditions, appropriate zones, etc. Especially like the many colors of astilbes. Checked at local Home Depot and Lowes and many of the plants shown will be available for sale by them (in about a month) for $4-$7. So everything is pretty reasonable in price. Might be worth looking at for ideas.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:39AM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

There are no boring green plants except Hostas, perhaps.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:00PM
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Astilbe, columbine, toad lilly, bleeding heart, garden primrose, autumn fern, perennial geranium, I have blooms of one sort or another from April through frost. I live on a very wooded lot. Hosta come in whites, yellows, blues and can be far from boring by the way.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 1:44PM
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I have a hosta garden and love the variety of colors (greens, whites, yellows, golds, blues) and patterns I get from them. Hostas June, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Golden Sceptor, Orange Marmalade, Sagae, Liberty, Earth Angel, Sum and Substance, etc. will light up any garden. I accent my hosta garden with bright Heucheras(Coral Bells), like Creme Brulee or Peach Melba, also Japanese Forest Grass or Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'), Astilbes (like Color Flash), Sweet Violets, Primroses, Bleeding Hearts, Trillium, varigated Jacob's Ladder and others.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 11:30PM
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How about some tiarella? Maybe a heucherella-creme brulee or lime rickey? Fallopia variegata?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 11:32AM
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Sweet William and Hydrangeas are colorful.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 8:42PM
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How about adding some pots of annuals to the mix? I, too, have a north-facing entrance, with lots of hosta. I mixed in pots with coleus, begonia and sweet potato vine this year. It wasn't all that expensive, either, if you find discounted/sale plants from Meijer, etc. What I like about annuals is that I can change it from year to year. Next year it might be impatients, or something else altogether.

Hydrangeas, I think, need a little sun. Mine comes back every year in the shade, but never strongly. I've amended the soil, but no luck so far.

Another idea is to take some digital pics of the space at various times of day and taking it to a quality local nursery. I've received lots of great -- and free! -- specific advice that way.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 11:14AM
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Hellebores - so many colors and long lasting flowers
dark leaved ajugas
If you have 2-3 hrs of sun you can grow most clematis
Dianthus barbatus
red Cardinal Flower - Lobelia cardinalis - this is the BEST
oriental lilies - part shade
Lilium Black Beauty - part shade
Martagon lilies - part shade

Quince shrubs - Cameo and Jet Trail get just a few hrs
boxwood and hollies
Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Pieris, Clethra,
Small trees - Witchhazels, small magnolias like Jane do fine with just a little sun, Spirea - which come in colors
Ribes species, Euonymous - variegated the low growing type is a nice evergreen creeping shrub that will survive in almost total shade. Corylus contorta once established doesn't need full sun. Leucoethoe fontanesia - takes low light and is evergreen through the winter. Viburnum rhytidiphyllum is an evergreen viburnum that becomes a small tree if not pruned - white flowers 2 x a yr turning to sprays of red berries the birds love - have one that never sees a direct ray of sun

Hakonechloa species - there are many
Carex species - my absolute favorite is Evergold
Old time species Mums like Clara Curtis will do fine in part shade as long as they are well drained
Ferns: Japanese Painted Ferns, Sensitive, Lady, Ostrich, the evergreen Christmas fern, etc
Solomons Seals - many kinds
Shasta Daisy - many kinds - Becky does fine in part shade
Daylilies - a zillion colors
species tulips - the little short ones, same for daffodils like Rip Van Winkle and Tete a Tete, many small early spring bulbs can store enough energy before the overhead canopy gets too thick - like chionodoxa, crocus etc
There is a zone 5 hardy calla lily that takes part sun
Forget Me Not - do better in half sun but they will live
as long as they aren't wet
Lily of the Valley
All the Tricyrtis - toad lilies - wonderful in the fall
Chelone 'Hot Lips'
Aconitum esp the heirloom species
Japanese anenomes-Pamina, Andrea Atkinson, Honorine Jobert
various sedums - if kept pinched Autumn Joy, Frosty Morn etc will grow well
All the gorgeous pulmonarias - Reginald Kay is my favorite followed by Majeste
Brunnera - just need a little morning sun
Asters actually bloom fine in part shade - like a moister environment than other daisy looking plants. I have Honeysong Pink which is a very large aster that gets maybe 2-3 hrs in the late morning - its enormous
Polyanthus Primroses
Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing' - dark purple foliage
Early peonies that bloom before canopy leaves are fully out
Sweet Woodruff
Japanese Iris - like it wet or dry, sunk down or elevated and will spread into a nice clump
If they can get just a few hrs sun a day- Butterfly bushes will just not be as dense but puts out lots of flowers

Lamiums - watch so they don't spread too aggressively
Gingers - European and the native American ginger
Virginia Bluebells
Itea Virginiana - a small native shrub
Fothergilla major - another native - needs a few hrs a day
If you have high canopy that is more like bright indirect light you can grow hydrangeas.
Taxus - yew shrubs

There is a mail order place called Old House Bulbs that is knowledgeable about bulbs in shade. Also Plant Delights - many others.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 1:13AM
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lovefornature(5B IL)

Alyrics: What a great list....I was happy to hear that Aster will grow in part sun (afternoon sun 2-3 hours a day with some dappled. I love these flowers.

I wanted to add Fuchsia.

Also, if you look up Mail Order Hosta's, you can find some absolutely stunning ones that are not boring in the shade at all.

Also, Limelight and Jack Frost have stunning leaves.

Annual, impatiens, they add alot of color.

Sorry if some of these were already mentioned.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 9:29AM
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Just out walking - forgot to mention a fab plant little used - Filipendula aurea, also creeping Jenny, houttuynia- Chameleon plant, Lychnis- the gooseneck loosestrife - agressive bu a great plant in the right place
the low sedums like Dragons Blood etc do just fine as long as not too wet, tiarella's, alliums - well drained and a little direct light.
I have Clematis Betty Corning in only a few hrs of morning sun- blooms till frost, the variegated grass called Feesey Grass, the dwarf Chamaecyparis, even prostrate Junipers and spruce will do ok in low light.
The spring ephemerals like Erythronium, Spring Beauty
and don't forget all the Jack in the Pulpits

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 9:51PM
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WoW! You are all so awesome! I, too, am from Indiana, and I am really working at sprucing up my very shaded back yard. Another thing I have added for flowers and color is the Endless Summer Hydrangea. the local nursery said that hydrangeas do well if they get at least four hours of sun a day, and then they can have shade for the rest. I have also planted toad lilies, and I have the type with white stripes on the leaves. they show up. Also, Lady's Mantle has yellow flowers on it. Another fun heuchera I found is Key Lime pie. It is sort of a chartreusish color, and it really shows up.

What part of Indiana are you in? There are tow nurseries near me with outsanding shade garden areas. It is sort of like being a kid in a candy shop when you go there. If you are close enough to the Indianapolis area, maybe you could take a look.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 8:16AM
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