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Shade Garden Plants

When you think of shade gardens you probably think of hostas. Its definitely a great shade plant but there are many more choices to consider.

Look for plants with variegated foliage like Hermans Pride. This variegated yellow archangel and its cousin deadnettle tolerate dry shade. Once the flowers fade the variegated foliage lights up the shade throughout the growing season.

For added color include coleus in your shade garden. There are lots of new varieties with leaves in many shapes and colors.

Elephant ears have bold leaves that stand out against the fine foliage of ferns. The silver and red highlights on Japanese painted ferns add color along with texture to the shade.

For a daintier look try Epimedium, commonly known as barrenwort. The spring flowers, red fall color and somewhat evergreen nature make this a year round beauty.

A bit more information: When planting in the shade of Norway maples, oaks and evergreens gardeners often focus on the shade and overlook a more limiting aspect of these locations. These shade plants also need to be drought tolerant. The dense canopy of these and many other large landscape plants prevent rainfall from reaching the ground level. What rainfall does reach the soil is usually consumed by the massive roots of the tree leaving the shade tolerant plant drought stricken. Select plants like deadnettle, liriope, coral bells, foam flower, sweet woodruff and hellebores that tolerate dry shade. Make sure new plantings are watered thoroughly and when the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist. Proper watering the first few years will result in deep drought tolerant root systems that will help these plant grow and flourish despite the dry shade.

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