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Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

Posted by vegangirl z6 VA (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 21, 05 at 7:28

I'm considering using all three of these ground covers in an area with high, afternoon shade, under decidious trees (sugar and red maple, black locust, wild cherry): Waldsteinia fragarioides, Pachysandra procumbens, and Chrysogonum virginianum. I will be adding larger perennials, such as hosta, daylilies, salvias, etc.

Please share your thoughts and experience:-) How well will they do planted together? How will they do with the larger perennials? How well will they supress weeds when they get established? Will afternoon shade be enough shade for them?
Thanks!


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

I had what I believe was Pachysandra procumbens growing wild at my previous house (in middle GA, zone 8). It did fine in almost full shade under pines, oaks, maples, and redbud. If you're planning on putting the daylilies in the same area, be forewarned. The daylilies (depending on the species) most likely will not bloom, or bloom much, in anything less than full sun.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

garden4wildlife, thanks for the imput on the Pachysnadra. I was just wondering if I had "enough" shade for it:-) The area is on the east side of the trees and gets morning sun up until about 1 to 2 p.m. Since we live in a "holler-hollow- cove- valley" (depending on where you live!), the sun doesn't actually hit the area until about 8 a.m. so about 6 hours of sunlight. I wonder if that's enough for daylilies to bloom well?


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I don't know if that will be enough shade for those ground covers, but as far as the daylilies, you might get some blooms (though possibly not as large or colorful as they would be in full sun). I suggest you either stick to the species daylilies or use Stella D'Oro...the species and Stella tend to do better in shade and other less-than-perfect growing conditions than the showy, newer hybrids. They also are extremely common, and therefore very cheap! The ones that have bloomed for me with only a half day of sun are the common "ditch lily" Hemerocallis fulva, H. fulva 'Kwanso' which is a double version, H. flava, H. fulva, and Stella D'Oro. One word of caution with daylilies, though...they are considered invasive in some areas. But there's a very simple way to stop this. Just break off the seed pods before they ripen and split open. *Usually* daylilies don't get a whole lot of seed pods unless you hand pollinate them, and they ripen quite slowly so it shouldn't be too big of a job unless you're planning to plant an entire field of them (in which case I suggest finding something native instead, since daylilies have very little wildlife benefit). They're actually edible, so while you're preventing them from spreading, at the same time you can be collecting the pods for a side dish! Just pick them fairly young so that the seeds will still be soft, and you can sautee them in a little butter...it's not bad. Likewise, if the plants themselves multiply too much, you can control them by digging them up and eating them...the leaves, flowers, and buds are also edible, raw or cooked. The roots are edible, too, but there have been a small number of reports about a toxin in the roots that seems to affect a few people more than others, so you might want to avoid those just to be safe.


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garden4wildlife, thanks! I was hoping to grow some of my pretty cultivars planted in "vignettes" with other plants. I think I'll post a question on the Daylily Forum and see if anybody can reccommend some cultivars that can bloom with less sun.

I haven't eaten the tubers and they were good, just a lot of trouble to get clean because I tried them in the fall and they were pretty shriveled. i had read about the possible toxins and now I'm afraid to eat the tubers:-) I plan to try the buds, etc though.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

If you get 6 hours of mid day sun that is considered full sun in a technical sense. I have daylillies growing under forsythia (didn't start that way but the forsythia didn't understand my plans) and they only get about 5 hours of sun and still bloom well.


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Have you considered wild ginger (asarum canadense?) as a groundcover alternative?


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I agree with Arborbluffgirl..wild ginger would be a fine ground cover, and other plants can grow up through it.

Daylily buds taste like green beans..sauteed in a little butter, onion and garlic, a pinch of salt a dash of freshly cracked pepper...YUM! Some people lightly batter the blossoms and fry them, too. Haven't tried that myself.

I think that an eastern exposure would be fine for the species you mentioned. April


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

Dieter2NC, that's encouraging information! All the trees in this spot are limbed up quite high.

ArborBluffGirl & April, I hadn't thought of wild ginger! I do have some in another spot. I think I'll that some to my ground cover mix.

I'll have to try those daylily buds! You make them sound delicious.


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I meant to say "add" some to my ground cover mix!


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A few things to think about for ground cover....what "wildlife" to you have around? I love the wild ginger, but slugs sure do like it. I'm just starting a woodland garden myself and I'm trying to find a ground cover or two...I'm thinking of geranium macrorrhizum and sweet woodruff, to name a couple. My main concern...what's rabbit proof, deer proof, slug proof and can take both wet and dry. This year we're pretty dry, but I've seen it very wet, as well...just depends on the rainfall.


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Mary, Good thought! Slugs so far, have not been a problem. We do have lots of rabbits though and deer. The deer seem to be staying out of the yard since we got a dog though. I think sweet woodruff is so pretty but was worried about it being invasive. I know it spreads around but I don't know if it matters LOL! Can other woodland plants grow up through it OK? I hadn't though of geraniums either. And I have some in other spots!


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

I am not a hosta, day-lily or salvia enthusiast, but the groundcovers you are considering seem like a mismatch.


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Waplummer, why do you think so? It's not fair to say that and not give me details! LOL. Those are things I have around so I though about using them. What would you suggest?


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Aren't you going to give me your suggestions? I really would like to know.


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I have a couple of beds of daylilies; all grow well but do not bloom equally. As you might suspect, the greater amounts of direct sun, the greater the number of blooms. My site has pictures: under terrace gardens are daylilies in just about full sun; driveway garden has daylilies in bright shade with only 1-2 hours of direct sun; pics at my site show both beds at their heights of bloom time. Full sun also yields much fuller plants.

Pachysandra seems to do better, too, with some sun, but I wouldnt plant daylilies among them; the pachy grows too dense. That said, you might try it anyway. Sweet woodruff among daylilies (despite their different bloom times) might be nice in less than full sun.


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I put in Waldensteinia fragroides last fall and it took well and is blooming now. I like it so much I am going to get more! It is very low-growing and spreads nicely but not terribly. I have it around some large stone steps, with trilliums and Siberian Squill bulbs. Of course, I live in the North (my garden is in zone 4 NH) and my area is mostly shade so i don't know how well it will do for you. But for me it is a really nice little groundcover.


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Don, absolutely stunning pictures!!! Thank you for sharing them. I "think" my daylilies would be getting 5 or 6 hours of sun.

aspringer, I like the idea of planting the waldensteinia around stone steps too! Eventually I'll have some stone steps in another part of the yard. Thanks for the good idea.


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It's true that daylillies might not bloom as much in shade as they do in sun, but they still bloom nicely when compared to many other shade plants. I have a beautiful daylilly bed that only gets about 3-4 hours of direct morning sun and light shade the rest of the day. It blooms just fine. Getting more shade tolerant varieties may be a good idea, but I have always just bought what I liked and everything has bloomed fine for me. I have 30+ different varieties of daylilly in this situation. Well that has been my experience with daylillies anyways. -Ais.


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I'm with Ais, I've had a respectable show from daylillies in part sun- 2-3 hrs around noon in the summer, bright, high shade the rest of the day.


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I really like Chrysogonum for a groundcover, but varieties vary quite a bit on how far a plant will spread. The least aggressive in my experience is v. australe, which spreads very gently. For gangbuster groundcovering ability, the standout I've seen is 'Eco Laquered Spider', which will spread 4 feet across in a season.

Pachysandra procumbens doesn't seem to grow as densely as the Asian species, so it may not shade out other plants as much as you might wish. But you can intersperse other natives with it and get a pleasing look. I saw pachysandra patches interspersed with swaths of smilacena and tiarella in the woods just the other day and made a mental design note because it looked so good.

Soeur


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ais and creatrix, thanks so much for the encouraging words about the daylilies. I'm happy to know that you are both having good blooms with even less sun than mine will have so mine should do fine.

soeur, thank you for the information. I didn't even realize there were different varieties of Chrysogonum!! I'll have to do a search.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

I have to go to hortiplex and see what waldensteinia looks like...don't think I know it. But in my mostly shady yard, I also use some varieties of Pulmonaria, Iris cristada (a favorite because it spreads so readily but can be pulled out if needed), Epimedium, Alchemilla (especially the dwarf), Dicentra Luxuriant, exima and formosa and well as tiarella. I like the mix of different things and also then don't end up with nothing if there's a bad winter or a blight of some kind. For instance, winter before last I lost every smidge of Ajuga in the yard plus all but a couple of really sheltered Pulmonaria longifolia. Sure glad there were other things around!


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The native pachysandra goes very nicely with native ferns. It kind of drapes itself gracefully around the ferns. Nice. Ginger might be too short to use in combination with these. Tiarella or heuchera might also work. Clumps of solomon's seal might also be a good complement in terms of height. I would not plant hosta or daylilies, which are not native. Daylilies spread right into woodlands.


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Our property had lilies in medium shade along one fence. They were very tall and spindly and leaned over the fence toward the the best sun of the day which for them was sunset. For some reason those lilies hosted tons of mosquitos. Brushing the plants could stir up a cloud in mid summer. They did bloom though. I finally dug them out to get rid of the mosquitos. Farther along the fence we have a thick patch of lily of the valley. Tall ferns have moved into that patch. It is very beautiful, with the dark green lily of the valley covering the ground, and lighter green ferns waving like plumes waist high and higher. I dont know what came first the lily of the valley or the ferns but it is lovely


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I wonder if waplummer was getting at the mix/appearance of native groundcovers with ornamental/non-native plants? I dunno.

The plants I have here are so dense that I don't think they are generally considered "ground cover" but they are dense enough that they form a cover anyway. I'm in 5b/6a hardiness zone and our plants were here when we bought the lot to build on. They are Blue Cohash (12" tall), Trout Lily (4-6" tall) and Jack in the Pulpits (4-12" tall). The ground is so thick with them that it produces a natural ground cover. I think I have a photo from earlier in the spring:


This is in late April

And this is now (May):

Barb
Ontario, CANADA


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susan6, that's too bad about your ajuga. I like the idea of a mix and i have all the plants you mentioned except epimedium. I've been wanting to get some of that.

Elaine, I agree about not planting daylilies in my woodland. Never!! :-) But my whole point in this border I'm contemplating is to showcase my daylilies in pleasing groupings in an effort to sell more. We have a small daylily farm. So it will be a display bed. I wanted to include the groundcovers to help crowd out weeds. i think i will put the pachysandra in the woodland with the other natives esp. ferns.

flowerkitty, your shady area sounds lovely! My daylily display area will get several hours of morning sun so I think they will be OK

Barb, thanks for sharing those lovely pictures. That looks like a perfect spot to relax and read a good book!


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The typical orange daylillies (aka ditchlillies) are the thugs. The nicer hybrids I have found to stay in well behaved clumps, and only a few volunteers have popped up from seed. I have had them for years with no problems. Just wanted to draw a distinction... -Ais.


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the Hostas even the small varieties will form larger and larger clumps and drown the Waldstenia and chrysogonum. The pachysandra should fare somewhat better, but it is fairly slow to spread. Daylilies with morning sun and high afternoon shade. They too will form large clumps. I have not grown Salvia. Grew daylilies initially, but decided I wanted something else. I have several varieties of the small Hosta and just today dug them up, divided them and will plant them at church where they can do their thing. I am using Waldstenia as a ground cover. I have an almost solid mat of Chrysogonum between stepping stones that run from the front lawn, on the north side of the house and to the back woods. it is a tremendous sight - my "green and gold" carpet.You might have too mcuh sun for some of the suggestions. I use Asarum canadensis and A. europeum, tiarella, Mitella, Mayapple, Symphytum grandiflora, Meconopsis cambrica, Stylophorum both grandidlora and lanceolatum, Dicentas, Hylomecon japonicum, Bloodroot, Twinleaf, Trillium, Disporum, Cimicifuga, Caulophyllum and some others as groundcoves. Nobody, nobody mentioned using ferns in your site. Veganfirl, you dan't take my opinion or anybody else's opinion as to waht will work for you. If the hosta, daylilies and coleus work for you, go for it.


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Ais, I agree about the daylilies! All the ones I would plant in this border would be hybrids.

Waplummer, thanks for sharing your ideas. I would love to see your green & gold carpet. I'll bet it is pretty. I don't want my little groundcovers to be smothered out so I guess I'll come up with something else for that border. Coleus? Not there:-)

As mentioned, the purpose of this border is to display daylilies and to show how to combine them with other perennials, etc in an effort to entice people to buy:-) The groundcovers are a secondary consideration in an effort to reduce weeding. We will mulch, of course, but someday, we would like to get into selling all of the types of plants in the border and would like to get folks interested in each of them.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

My favorite groundcovers for shade are:
1. Phlox divaricata,or woods phlox. Mine gets a little sun, mostly high shade with afternoon shadow. Soft blue-violet flowers dance delicately in the breeze at 8" in the spring, the rest of the year it is a mat of 1-2" bright green pointed leaves that pretty much stay all winter.
2. Tiarella cordata. Foamflower. There are many new cultivars, my favorite is "Running Tapestry" It's a little slower to spread in the dry shade than the Phlox.
3. Epimedium. Lots of subtly different vatieties. Slow to establish but hard as nails once its in.
These are all natives, not just to the USA, but to your area as well. I grow all of these and really enjoy them. As groundcovers, they cover the ground well and over several seasons, and take a bit of stepping on without croaking (not regular traffic, though, a lawn they are not.)
I have been looking for Chrysogonum virginiana seed, enough for about 600 sq. feet of shrub border. Would love a mix of the different varieties Soeur mentioned. Does anyone know where I could get some? I can buy it if it's not available for swap.
A really pretty garden I buy daylilies from has different varieties of Geraniums (Cranesbills) between the sections of different lilies. They form beautifully regular mounds, bloom at different times, and in various colors. But the best thing about them is their textural contrast to the strappy foliage of the daylilies. Some Geraniums have wonderfully colored fall foliage, too. Good luck with these.
I want to try growing Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, as well. I observed it in the woods while serving as a counselor at Natural Resources Carreers Camp in July. It was most beautiful under pines, shiny, dark green leaves running over the pine needles like lace placemats.
I was really impressed by Barb's garden pix in the thread- Good Work! It's beautiful.
All the best,
Connie


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Connie, I love Phlox divaricata too!! I bought a couple of different geraniums this spring and I'm getting more and more interested in them. That's a neat idea about putting them between the daylily sections! Thanks for all the good ideas. I'll have to check out that other thread. I don't know about Chrysogonum seed. I bought mine as plants.
VG


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

Two fabulous groundcovers for me - not sure if they are hardy elsewhere - are Oxalis oreganum and a couple of the shade-loving saxifrages: S. umbrosa primuloides, S. X urbium (London Pride), and S. stolonifera which most people know as a houseplant, strawberry begonia. Also no one has mentioned Geranium macrorhizum. Very tough.

Chrysoplenium is also quite cute and vigorous when happy.

I've also just gotten a little one called Coptis something or other, which is very drought tolerant and attractive so far.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

Karin, thanks for those names! I look all those up and see about the hardiness.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

Oh, and one more: Cardamine trifolia. I looked this one up and it is hardy from zone 5.


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Karin, thanks! I'm getting quite a list to choose from. I'm looking forward to researching everything this winter.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

  • Posted by arcy ZN 3/4 (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 26, 05 at 11:59

Don't know the technical names but I love my creeping jenny, sedums and ajuga. I too lost a lot of it last winter due to little snow cover. I also have a wild geranium and violet vine. The baby tears I have I could live with out.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

I grow some of these in my woodland garden.
English Ivy (All along a chain link fence I am wanting to cover.
Confederate Jasmine
Contoneaster
Mondo (Monkey) Grass
Dichondra
Liriope
Pachysandra
Sedum
Sunny


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arcy and Sunny, thanks for more ideas!!


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Partridgeberry is a lovely ground cover and a good protection for spring ephemerals. Labrador violets have pretty purple tinged leaves.
I have a pretty variegated leaf wood phlox called Montrose Tricolor which until recently was the only wood phlox the slugs did not destroy.
Pixie


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Pixie, thanks! I didn't know there was a variegated wood phlox. i'll do a search for it.


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I got mine locally in N.J. at Atlock Farms, a specialty nursery. I see
it listed at Variegated Foliage Nursery online.-under Phlox.
Pixie


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Weeds to avoid;ivys, asian pachysandra,daylillys,ajuga,vinca,jap honeysuckle.lantana,sedum,miosotis(nonnative forgetmenots)and the list go on,just about anything they try to sell you at a garden center.AVOID THOSE PLACES.


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RE: Evaluating Shade Groundcovers

Just rediscovered this thread!!

Pixie, thanks for the tip. I'll check out that online nursery.

nywoodsman, yes, I'm afraid of those you mentioned :-) I assume you are talking about the daylily H. fulva and not the named cultivars.

VG


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