unusual shade plants

raineycats(5b)June 6, 2007

I'm interested in putting a few new, unusual or unexpected plants into my shade gardens, which vary from dappled with some sun to solid shade. Only 2 conditions: 1. no cactus, and 2. I don't have much space to bring out-of-zone varieties indoors for the winter, so I pretty much need to stay with whatever will be happy during the winter in zones 5 thru 6. Any suggestions? Anything out there that will shock the neighbors? Make friends turn green with envy?

Your thoughts, please.

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waplummer(Z5 NY)

What do you consider "old", "usuual" or "expected"?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 11:15AM
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There are a lot of good native woodland plants that people are not familiar with: trillium, jack in the pulpit, solomon's seal, and others. The native gingers (hexastylis and asarum) have the most unusual flowers.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 1:01PM
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Do you consider toadlilies unusual? If so, Tricyrtis 'Togen' is great. It has been described as a toadlily on steroids. Huge foliage, big flowers, rock hardy. Corydalis 'Blackberry Wine' can get pretty spectacular, blooming after the Spring things like Phlox divaricata. Mine is in full bloom now, and it scents the air around it with a good fragrance. To make the neighbors (& me) truly green with envy, get Corydalis 'Berry Exciting,' the yellow leaved version of 'Blackberry Wine.' Another special shade plant is a double Anemonella thalictroides 'Schoaf's Double,' with pink flowers. There are also some cool-looking new ferns, such as 'Dre's Dagger' & 'Lady in Red.' Lobelia 'Monet Moment' has large dark pink flowers & blooms for a very long time. My favorite unusual native is Caulophyllum thalictroides, the blue cohosh, which starts with darkpurple-blackish flowers with yellow and gets bright blue berries in the middle summer and has great looking foliage.

Spring flowers

In back right (foliage)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 3:50PM
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Oh, I forgot (because I don't have them) Mukdenia rossii 'Crimson Fans' and double flowered Trillium grandiflorum & double flowered Sanguinaria canadensis. Very high drool factor.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 12:53PM
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many thanks to all, especially entling & esh ga! i copied the plants you suggested and now am on a mission to locate as many as possible . WOW!! the drool factor is in full play!
-- rainey

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 11:49PM
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chezmoose(z4/5 MI)

Do you have Brunnera 'Jack Frost'? It's a gorgeous plant even after the blooms are done.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 2:00PM
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I agree about "jack frost" brunnera--I've had it since last year & it's grown leaps & bounds in the mostly shade (perhaps 2 hours midday sun) & its leaves are quite striking. Had you thought about tradescantia? It's gotten a bad rap for its "untidyness" but I love the effect of "sweet kate" with its chartreuse/yellow wild sword blade leaves contrasted with its blue/violet flower petals. And it, too, is flourishing in the same spot.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 7:35AM
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epimediums are my current fav

Here is a link that might be useful: Naylor Creek epimediums

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 7:10PM
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I don't know if you'd consider it unusual, but my favorite is Corydalis Lutea. It blooms May-frost here.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 8:12PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

Epimediums, tricyrtis, hellebores, rohdea japonica, spiranthes, bletilla striata, hakonechloa, asarum, actea pachypoda-there are so many! & I'm lucky, 'cause I have lots of shade....

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 1:49PM
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