(News article for October, 2019)
I love driving through the Florida Parishes and admiring all the trees in the landscape. Many residents choose to keep trees in their yards for very good reasons. Trees provide beauty in the landscape, shade, energy savings, wildlife habitat, and privacy. One thing they don’t provide is enough sun for many of the sun loving, colorful flowers we enjoy year after year. It is hard to strike a balance between growing a lush, green lawn with interesting plants and taking advantage of the shade that trees provide. Many of you have spoken to me about your frustrations with gardening in the shade so I compiled some information that will help you have the best of both worlds. There are a variety of plants that grow well in the shade and some provide magnificent displays of color.
Perennials are plants that live year after year. When you begin planning your landscape, you want to pick out your trees, shrubs, and perennials first because you won’t be able to move them around easily after they are planted. Camellias and sasanquas are excellent for shady areas and provide color throughout the fall and winter. The Shishi Gashira camellia and the Leslie Ann sasanqua are two Louisiana Super Plants that have been tested and are proven to do well in this area.
Azaleas are a good shade loving shrub. Try a variety that will bloom more than once per year to get the most bang for your buck. Conversation Piece is a good selection which has multi colored blooms. It puts on a big show in the spring and blooms again in the fall. The Encore series has multiple colors to choose from and most of them will bloom throughout the year.
Ferns are great for shady areas and are underused in the Florida parishes. They grow well under large trees or on the shady side of a house. Holly fern and autumn fern are good evergreen fern options. Wood fern and royal fern are beautiful deciduous ferns.
Some other shade loving trees, shrubs, and perennials to consider are: hostas, hydrangea, ligularia, gingers, fatsia, parsley hawthorn, silver bell, variegated gardenia, liriope, and Japanese maple.
Warm season bedding plants are popular due to the impressive displays of color they create in our landscapes all summer long. Warm season bedding plants are planted in the spring, usually before May 1st, and play out by the first frost.
Two of my favorite warm season bedding plants for shade are caladiums and coleus. Both are grown for their attractive foliage rather than their flowers. Coral Bells (heuchera) is another colorful foliage plant to consider for shady areas.Impatiens and begonias are old shade loving, flowering standards.Beacon impatiens are disease resistant and performed beautifully at the LSU trial gardens this summer.
Torenia (wishbone flower) is another bedding plant I recommend for partially shady areas. It is a low growing, low maintenance bedding plant that comes in a variety of colors. The Kauai series is a Louisiana Super Plant that comes in white, pink, purple, yellow, and magenta colors.
Cool season bedding plants are planted during fall and can tolerate colder temperatures. Some, like foxglove, grow throughout the winter and then flower in early spring, while others provide flowers all winter long!
Cyclamens are my favorite cool season bedding plant because of their beautiful flowers and attractive foliage. The best thing about cyclamens is that, unlike most flowering plants, they will grow and flower in deep shade. I usually see white, pink, and red varieties at my local garden center.
Nicotiana, forget-me-nots, lobelia, primrose, and foxglove are other cool season bedding plants you should consider. Foxglove transplants should be planted in October or early November.They will grow throughout the winter and then put on a beautiful display in the spring. Foxglove plants do well in shade but will require about 2 hours of sunlight per day. The Camelot variety is a Louisiana Super Plant.
I hope that gardeners frustrated with the shady areas of their landscape will give some of these shade loving plants a try. There are plenty of colorful options. Good Luck!
Jessie Hoover is a County Agent with the LSU AgCenter covering horticulture in East Feliciana, West Feliciana, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa parishes. For more information on these or related topics contact Jessie at 225-683-3101 or visit the LSU AgCenter Website.
Dixie wood fern at the Hammond Research Station.
Photo by Jessie Hoover.
Torenia bedding plant at the Hammond Research Station.
Photo by Jessie Hoover.