Grow For It! Shade gardening

By From page B3 | July 10, 2013

Kit SmithAs summer brings in warmer temperatures and the stresses of heat become apparent on some plants in gardens, a look at some plants and trees that grow well in partial to full shade can help spruce up the yard or garden.

Ferns prefer no direct sunlight.

The ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) needs rich soil and can grow to 6 feet high and 3 feet wide.

Bleeding heart (Dicentra) is a fernlike plant that likes partial shade and it bears pretty pendulum heart-shaped flowers,

Spice bush (Calycanthus occidentalis) is easy to grow from seed. It has bright green leaves between 2 and 6 inches that turn yellow in the fall, while brownish red flowers bloom in late spring and summer.

Foxglove (Digitalis) grows erect to four feet and has long tubular funnel-shaped flowers in all colors — another benefit is bees love them.

The Gladwin iris has blue-green flowers and seed capsules that open in the fall to show round orange flowers with scarlet seeds. These iris grow well with little water.

Hellebore (Helleborus) has 1 inch light green flowers with purple edges that bloom from winter to spring.

The Christmas rose hellebore blooms from Christmas to spring with dark green leaves and white 2 inch flowers. Hellebore does well in alkaline soil and self-sows.

Hosta is another shade-thriving plant that prefers good soil. The leaves radiate from a center clump that grows in size over the years.

The monkey flower (Mimulus) is 1 foot tall and has 2 inch flowers that bloom all different colors in the spring.

Wake robin (Trillium) is a rhizome and each spring shows whorls of three leaves and a single three-petal flower. It dies back to the ground in mid to late summer.

Pansies, violets and the odorata sweet violet (Violaceae) like a little sun during the flowering season.

Shade-loving plants that grow well in containers include evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium) and the plantain lily (Hosta). Huckleberry grows 8 to 10 feet tall and broad and has pink flowers and black berries, and the plantain lily has a thin spike with trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom in summer.

One tree that thrives in deep shade is the California laurel (Umbellularia californica), and can provide more shade for plants growing underneath.

Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis) is an excellent ground cover for shady places; it has dark green leaves and small white flowers. Too much sun results in poor growth.

Join Master Gardeners at this Saturday’s free public education class to learn more about how shade gardens can offer cool beauty to the landscape with various textures and colors.

The three-hour class starts at 9 a.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville.

Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon by calling 530-621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome at the office, located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville.

Master Gardeners are also available to answer garden questions at local farmers markets.

For more information about the public education classes and activities go to the Master Gardener Website at Sign up to receive the online notices and e-newsletter at You can also find Master Gardeners on Facebook.

Kit Smith

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