Best time of year to plant shade garden?

amy1717(TX 9)September 22, 2013

Howdy all, I've been searching google & GW for a while now to try to learn what time of year is best to plant the plants I'd like to try in my shade-garden-to-be (once I find where to buy them, of course), with no luck.

They are: hellebore, brunnera, pulmonaria, and perhaps some elephant ears. I'm in central TX, and the bed isn't ready for planting yet, I'm just in the research & planning stages...

None of my searches is turning up any solid advice on this point -- any ideas? Thanks! - a

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Well, up here in zone 7, coastal NJ with cold winters and hot, humid and often droughty summers, fall is the best time to plant - the sun's intensity is waning, yet the soil is still warm enough to encourage root development before winter sets in. Whereas if you plant in spring, the soil is still cool, but the air is warming and the sun's intensity increasing, so supplemental irrigation throughout the summer is critical.

If you are planting container-grown plants, the season is not usually a big issue. If you are planting bare-root, that's another story.

In a rescue situation, I moved a hellebore (supposedly so resentful of being moved at all) at the wrong time of year but treated it with care and it showed no signs of trauma at all ... didn't even skip a bloom cycle.

I wouldn't think any of those plants should be so difficult to find. Up here, the elephant ears are sold as bulbs, since they aren't winter hardy in our region.

Pulmonaria is a nice choice for the shady garden - the ones with the silver-speckled leaves brighten the shade throughout the season, and the flowers are a bonus.

Heath and snowdrops get me through winter (if they can make it, so can I), but the blooms of the hellebore and witch hazel are welcome in late winter, before the daffodils and magnolias steal the show.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 9:00PM
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amy1717(TX 9)

agardenstateof_mind - Thanks for sharing your insights & ideas, much appreciated! I just "discovered" those after doing some Google searches for shade plants on Sunday, and was pleased to find that there are such a variety of possibilities for the shade garden, and with blooms, even :) I look forward to trying them out here. I hope with a little babying through their first year, they'll acclimate to our hot, dry summers and won't be too high-maintenance. Thanks again! - amy

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:38PM
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Always happy to share plant info! You might want to check out the Texas Native Plant Society's web site for plants for your region - I understand Texas has widely differing environments, and they have lots of information on their web site.

A few plants I particularly like for dry shade here, though not all are native to U.S., are epimedium, sweet box (sarcococca), solomon's seal (polygonatum; the variegated form brightens the shade) and coral bells (heuchera). Check on their suitability for your climate, though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Native Plant Society

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 10:10AM
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