Flower Power: Suggestions for plants to thrive in the shade

News Desk (09 January, 2019) Columnists

'There are many plants that tolerate shade, providing the area is not completely over shadowed throughout the day'

27334Wild primroses

For city dwellers gardening is usually restricted to window boxes or containers on a balcony or patio; gardens are a rarity and likely to be small and possibly shaded by buildings or trees, writes Jackie Power…

December weather for the most part, was mild and over cast with occasional sunny days. January is often colder and this month temperatures are looking variable with mild daytime conditions – dropping close to freezing overnight.

For city dwellers gardening is usually restricted to window boxes or containers on a balcony or patio; gardens are a rarity and likely to be small and possibly shaded by buildings or trees. This can present a challenging environment but there are many plants that tolerate shade, providing the area is not completely over shadowed throughout the day.

To ensure plants can thrive in shady conditions the ground needs to be free draining, not compacted or waterlogged. This can be achieved by aerating and mulching in spring and autumn, and top dressing plants in March to keep the soil in good condition. Here are suggestions for plants that will thrive in a shady garden:

  • Foxglove is a tall eye-catching biennial; producing sturdy foliage which grows vigorously ahead of the bell shaped pink or purple blooms which appear on one main stem in the second year; it often sets seeds and becomes established. Attracts bees.
  • Vinca minor – Periwinkle is an evergreen ground covering shrub producing blue or white flowers. Prune regularly once established, it is hardy and tolerates deep shade.
  • Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) this fast growing resilient shrub produces small insignificant flowers in summer (which attract bees); but loses its leaves in autumn – then shimmery pink or white decorative berries (not edible) appear.
  • Osmanthus burkwoodii: is a slow growing evergreen shrub with holly-like leaves, produces small highly perfumed flowers in autumn. Low maintenance but may need light pruning after flowering to keep compact.
  • The Japanese anemone grows to about 70cm, attractive and hardy producing large, simple white or pink flowers in summer and autumn.
  • Summer Jasmine is a vigorous climber producing clusters of highly fragrant white flowers – for those than can tolerate its very sweet aroma!

Snowdrops and the autumn crocus naturally grow in a shady environment. For a splash of seasonal colour – plant annuals such as Impatiens (busy Lizzie) in summer; and Primroses in early spring.

And finally, January is a tough month for the smaller wild birds as food sources are scarce; provide feeders (with good quality seed) and fat balls – in a safe place away from predators.

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