shade loving plants/ easy care flowers?

gardenquestApril 8, 2008

when it was so nice out this past weekend, I took the liberty of building a new flower bed around a tree in my back yard. The tree is a 5 year old box elder, so it is only 1/2 of it future size ( Mamma tree is across the yard and it is about 50' tall) i would like to plant some very easy to grow / not much care needed shade loving plants in my new bed......what do you reccomend?

it a "swirl" pattern about 20" deep and 6' long. ( 2 ft from a fence, so only access from 3 sides)

I also do not want to spend alot of $$, last year we had a disgusting infestation( litterly millions of the sick red grossies) of box elder tree bugs and had to spray the entire yard to kill them.......if that happens again i do not want to kill everything i spent $$ on.

thank you


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Growing stuff under box elders isn't much different than growing stuff under any other tree.

What I wanted to comment on is this statement : last year we had a disgusting infestation( litterly millions of the sick red grossies) of box elder tree bugs and had to spray the entire yard to kill them

Box elder bugs really aren't that bad. In most cases, even in heavy numbers, they don't do much plant damage (unless you have box elder trees) so there is no need to spray your entire yard with anything.

The primary problem with BEB (Box Elder Bugs) is that in the fall they start looking for warmth and this can mean entering your home to overwinter.

To the extent they are in your yard, leave them alone. To the extent they are on your home's exterior seeking warmth, spray them with 19 parts water, 1 part liquid dish soap. Kills them dead without turning your yard into a toxic chemical factory.

Death with this solution is almost instantly visible.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 11:00PM
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By 'easy care', what do you mean? Very little watering? Plants that don't need deadheading? I have a garden beneath a very large Linden tree. Trees in general do take up a lot of water and the small plants will have to fight for it. And when my Linden has all it's leaves out, it stops a lot of rain from reaching the garden. I mulch that garden with cocoa bean mulch and water once a week very deeply. Once in awhile when we had some really hot summers, I would water that area twice a week. I have hostas and a few brunnera 'Jack Frost' plants in that garden amoung some annuals. Generally, I just water once a week and that's all I have to do with those plants. As long as they're mulched and watered deeply once a week, they grow great. The 'Jack Frosts' have flowers in Spring just like forget-me-nots. Once they're done blooming, the leaves really make a shady area look bright. Coleus are very colorful shade lovers too. Though they're annuals here, they're cheap to get and you can take cuttings every year to put in the next summer. There are so many different hostas out there too. All of mine are variegated to add brightness to a shady area. If the area gets at least 4 hrs of sun, heucheras are a great plant for the area too. I have the ones with colored leaves. Again, no special care, just mulch and water.
Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 4:47AM
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Kat, or anyone else,

I have a question for you:

I have also grown coleus here, and took cuttings, rooted them in the house just fine, but they must have brought some mildew in with them from outside, because they soon lost all their leaves, and all I had left were rooted stems!
Do you spray them with a fungicide when you bring the cuttings in from outside?

Years ago I grew coleus as houseplants, and rooted cuttings successfully all the time, so I'm not doing something right when I bring them in from outside.

TIA for any suggestions,


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 6:24PM
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I've never had a problem with any disease on my coleus. I only have one that I rooted this past Fall, and I still have it in water. I did lose some leaves when I first brought it in. I've had that happen before. I think it's just the change from a lot less sun light. It's doing fine now and picking up more color in the leaves. Did you put yours in soil? If there were still roots, I would have tried pinching the tops a little to see if it would get some side shoots. I really think yours sound like they just had some shock from coming in from the outside to your home.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 2:39AM
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Well, Kat,

I'll give it another try this year, rooting cuttings of coleus. Come to think of it, I think I left them in water too long. I'll remember to pot them up sooner this year.



    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 7:30PM
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aka_margo(z5a WI)

I had the same problem with my coleous, but I also think I left them in the water too long once the roots had established.

Common hostas are probably your best bet for something cheap and easy to care for. Though they will still need to be watered, especially when it gets really hot. A lot of times you can find someone who is dividing their hostas and is willing to go you divisions. Heucheras, astilbes (they like to be watered), Goldenrod (does not cause allergies), lamium, etc are some other choices for a shady garden.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 9:07AM
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I have an under tree shady, dappled shady spot - hostas are the mainstay, but I threw in some impatiens for nice color last year and really liked the look. This year, I think I'll add some coleus to the hosta/impatiens mix.

But for absolutely no care - impatiens really fills the bill.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 6:15PM
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Julie and Margo, I still have my cutting from coleus in water from last Fall. It has a lot of roots and it's been picking up nicely since the days have gotten longer. I'll be putting it into a pot of soil next weekend.
I grew impatiens for many years where I used to live. We had very little sun in that area, but they always brighten it up. I'd tried different color schemes with them. I like the short ones the best...dwarfs I think. The ones that have the flowers that look like roses are pretty too. Maybe I'll give them a try again.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 12:03AM
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thank you
we are going to do impatients this year, and then in fall fill the bed with tulip bulbs. it should be very pretty.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 2:44PM
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Gardenquest, I don't know where you live, but I have a ton of hostas in my yard I am looking to get rid of! If you're interested, please let me know. Also, some of us are having a plant swap at my house June 7, in West Bend.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 1:36PM
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Gardenquest, tulips are not reliable perennial bulbs in our cold winters. They tend to die out after a few years. Also, a lot of critters like them.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 4:36PM
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aka_margo(z5a WI)

Plus if that area is shady the tulips will not bloom. You will get leaves and that is it. Tulips are also spring flowers so it will only look pretty in spring, and then it will just be ugly dying off plants during the summer.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 7:51AM
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Margo, as long as the bulbs get sun until the leaves start yellowing, they should be ok. My neighbors have daffodils planted under trees and they're in bloom now. By the time the leaves come out good, the daffs' leaves will be starting to turn. But if Tina gets late bloomers, they may not get enough sun. She mentioned about putting in impatiens for summer color.
Tina, I'd checked around to see what early blooming bulbs you can put there. Also, there are many that critters won't bother.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 2:54AM
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aka_margo(z5a WI)

From personal experience tulips will not bloom well without full sun. The person who lived in my house before me planted standard tulips all over, and right now some are in bloom. However the ones that only receive morning or afternoon sun never bloom. Plus the rabbits and squirrels in my yard love to eat them. Daffodils are much more forgiving.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 1:00PM
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Thank you all -

I am back to the drawing board, I only wanted to do tulips because my 8 year daugther has loved them since she was a toddler and this was to be "her" flowerbed.
I am not to worried about critters, i have a completely fenced in yard, and a dog :) things that are silly enough to come in, do not usally get back out! ( ekk!)
thank you again, i will start looking at flowers more now, as the weather warms up.
Maintence free / easy care to me would be not having to "dead head" , not have a ton of bees or ants, and be able to tolerate once or twice a week watering ~
i grow mostly veggies and i would like to water then entire garden at the same time. (more often mid summer)

thank you again!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 11:08AM
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davej_07(z5 WI)

All Ican say is HOSTA HOSTA HOSTA!!!!!!!!!!!

They make GREAT, easy to care for plants:)

Of course, IM a Hosta nut so Id say that.....


    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 9:47PM
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