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GARDENS BY THE BAY


Galanthus - Snowdrops

SHADE PERENNIALS & THEIR COMPANIONS - 2


There are so many wonderful perennials, ornamental grasses and bulbs suitable for growing in shady situations or woodland gardens you will have no shortage of choices to make at your local nurseries. And if you haven't yet found the perfect match for your shade plants, there are lots to consider below.


* Watch for the animated hummingbird and butterfly with the plants that attract them. *
The deer icon indicates plants that deer are not usually attracted to.

The best time and method to propagate plants can be found on our image-intensive PROPAGATION page.

To help your plants grow their best, check out our FERTILIZATION page.

To create your own plant partnerships based on tried and true color theory, check out our GARDEN COLOR page.

To see if a particular plant is on this page press Ctrl+F, type in the name, then click the Find button.


FERNS

Generally performing best in moist, well-drained soil, ferns will bring wonderful colour and texture to your shade garden with their lovely fronds.

Ferns generally:   also see by individual names

    with:  Polygonatum odoratum, Pulmonaria, Hosta, Lilium, Epimedium, Dicentra, Helleborus, Begonia grandis,
      Phlox divaricata, Phlox stolonifera
    near spring bulbs:  Narcissus
      with spring wildflowers:  Mertensia virginica, Arisaema
        keep away from aggressive ground-covering spreaders:  Hedera helix, Ajuga reptans, Pachysandra terminalis, Vinca
      For more information on specific ferns, follow the links below.

    • Athyrium
    • Dennstaedtia

    • GALANTHUS

      One of the earliest bulbs to bloom in spring, Snowdrops have pendant white flowers with a green streak over lush grassy foliage. Plants these by the hundreds for a lovely effect.

      Galanthus nivalis:  Snowdrop, 4-6"x3"

        Galanthus nivalis - Snowdrops
        this wonderful spring-blooming bulb can be seen in the border around this page and in the image at the top of the page.
          where:  shade under bushes, trees, along woodland paths
            with:  small ferns, Trillium, Hepatica, Sanguinaria canadensis, Galium odoratum, Scilla tubergeniana
              under:  Philadelphus, Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy', Campanula portenschlagiana
                to follow earliest bulbs:  Crocus vernus, Eranthis hyemalis
                  co-blooming with:  Crocus vernus 'Remembrance'
                    complementary bloom time:  Chionodoxa luciliae, Eranthis hyemalis
                  Galanthus nivalis 'Simplex':  Common Snowdrop
                    with:  Eranthis hyemalis


                  GALIUM

                  A choice plant for foliage interest all summer long, Sweet Woodruff has starry white flowers as a bonus in spring.

                  Galium odoratum:  Sweet Woodruff, 4-10"x12-18"

                    Galium odoratum
                    formerly:  Asperula odorata
                      where:  in shade of trees or shrubs;  shady, moist locations
                        with:  shrubs, esp. shade-loving types; Rhododendron
                          over:  spring bulbs, wildflowers i.e. Mertensia virginica
                            with:  Myosotis, Doronicum, Galanthus nivalis, Hosta
                          Find more information about Sweet Woodruff at the link below.

                        • white Galium

                        • GENTIANA

                          If it is late summer to autumn flowers you need, you can do no better than Gentian to provide a touch of blue to your partly shaded areas.

                          Gentiana:  Gentian

                            with:  other lush foliage plants, ferns, woodland Aster, Hosta, Carex spp, Ornamental Grasses
                          Gentiana 'Benichidori':  Pink Gentian
                            with:  blue Gentiana, Artemisia 'Silver Brocade'
                          Gentiana acaulis:  Mountain Gentian (an Alpine species)
                            where:  rock garden, scree, trough garden
                          Gentiana asclepiadea:  Willow Gentian, 18-24"
                            where:  wild gardens, perennials borders with fall-bloomers
                              with:  ferns, wildflowers, Aster, Solidago
                            Gentiana septemfida lagodechiana:  Every-man's Gentian, Crested Gentian, intense blue
                              where:  front of border
                                with:  other low growers, esp. deep yellow, white and pink


                              GERANIUM

                              Cranesbill, or Hardy Geranium, is a versatile genus of plants, most with showy flowers, in a wide range of colours. Cut them back after bloom to encourage fresh foliage that will provide interest for the rest of the gardening season.

                              Geranium phaeum:  Mourning Widow (Border type), 18-24"x24"

                                Geranium phaeum - Mourning Widow Geranium
                                where:  moist, shady areas, even deep dry shade (most geraniums prefer more sun than this species does)
                              Additional choices in this genus are accessed with the following links. Find the perfect partners for whichever ones you choose to add to your gardens.

                            • Hardy Geranium Profile
                            • blue Hardy Geraniums
                            • edging Hardy Geraniums
                            • Hardy Geraniums for foliage effect
                            • pink Hardy Geraniums
                            • white Hardy Geraniums
                            • Simply Special Perennials - Hardy Geranium's many forms

                            • HAKONECHLOA

                              The long arching leaves of Hakone Grass, on a plant up to a foot tall, will all spill in one direction, creating the appearance of a waterfall. Excellent over a rock edge.

                              Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola':  Hakone Grass

                              Follow the link below for more information about this plant, a must-add to your gardens as soon as you can find it.

                            • the perfect edging Ornamental Grass for shade
                            • Hakone Grass with variegated foliage

                            • HEDERA

                              Reputedly for dense shade to part sun, Ivy actually does best in indirect light.

                              Hedera helix

                                with:  Vinca minor
                              For more information about this Ivy, follow the link below.

                            • Ivy with variegated foliage

                            • HELLEBORUS

                              Hellebores can provide the earliest blooms in your shade garden. Their leathery foliage will continue the interest to fall.

                              Helleborus:  Hellebore

                                Helleborus - Hellebore
                                where:  moist sites, partial to full shade, shade gardens, woodland plantings
                                  with:  spring bulbs, early-flowering wildflowers, ferns, shade-loving perennials
                                    with:  Primula, Viola, Galanthus nivalis
                                      long-blooming effect with:  Mertensia virginica & Tulipa or Narcissus (for winter to late spring colour)
                                        near Lycoris squamigera & Begonia grandis (for summer and fall colour)
                                          interplanted with:  Dicentra spectabilis (this may not work in northern areas)
                                            contrast with:  Skimmia
                                          Helleborus niger:  Christmas Rose, 12-18"x16"
                                            where:  under shade of trees, woodland gardens, within view from a window while still partly snow-covered
                                              with:  wildflowers, ferns, early spring bulbs
                                            Helleborus orientalis:  Lenten Rose, 16-24"x18"
                                              now called:  Helleborus x hybridus
                                                where:  under trees and shrubs, in well-drained, loamy soil
                                                  with early spring bulbs:  Galanthus nivalis, Iris reticulata, Muscari, Narcissus, miniature Tulipa
                                                    purple or blue/black hybrids with:  Primula veris or Primula elatior (light yellow forms)


                                                  x HEUCHERELLA

                                                  A cross between two genera, Heuchera & Tiarella, Foamy Bells provides both attractive foliage and flowers.

                                                  x Heucherella:  Hybrid Foamy Bells, 12-24"x12"

                                                    what:  a cross between Heuchera and Tiarella
                                                      where:  woodland gardens, part shade
                                                    x Heucherella alba 'Bridget Bloom':  Foamy Bells;   shell pink, light pink
                                                      with:  flowering shrubs, spring bulbs, woodland wildflowers, ferns
                                                        in shade of:  Amelanchier spp, Halesia spp, Cladrastis lutea and other flowering trees
                                                      Let the partnership ideas at the following link inspire you with your garden design.

                                                    • pink Foamy Bells
                                                    • Foamy Bells with variegated foliage

                                                    • HOSTA

                                                      The choice available in this genus today is nearly overwhelming. Whatever your shade intensity, or size requirements, there will be many from which to choose as the perfect shade garden candidate.

                                                      Hosta:  all forms

                                                      A variety of Hostas, along with photographs that show their foliage and information about their flowers, can be found at the links below.

                                                    • wonderful Hosta forms
                                                    • our Hosta garden
                                                    • Hosta with variegated foliage

                                                    • KERRIA

                                                      It amazes me that more people don't grow the wonderful Japanese Kerria shrub, perfect for even dense shade. The pistachio-green stems make it a bright accent at all times, even in winter. My preference is for the single yellow-flowered form, rather than the double. I grow one with solid green foliage as well as one whose foliage is variegated, both with single yellow blooms. I find the double-flowers heavy and downright unattractive.

                                                      Kerria japonica:  Japanese Kerria shrub, 5-8'x6-9'

                                                        Kerria japonica - Japanese Kerria Shrub
                                                        the variegated foliage form can be seen in the photograph above
                                                          note:  for a profile of this plant click here
                                                            with:  Lunaria annua
                                                              above:  Galanthus nivalis & other early bulbs, Narcissus 'Martha Washington' (white with yellow cups)
                                                            Follow the link below for more information about this plant you must add to your shady corners. You'll love it!

                                                          • Kerria shrub with variegated foliage

                                                          • LAMIASTRUM

                                                            It is interesting to watch Yellow Archangel in the days just before it blooms. The foliage, which normally hugs the ground, begins to shoot up high, then produces lovely hooded yellow flowers in whorls around the leaf axils. After blooming, the variegated foliage flattens out and becomes a wonderful groundcover again.

                                                            Lamiastrum galeobdolon: False Lamium, Yellow Archangel, 8-14"x12"

                                                            Lamiastrum galeobdolon 'Herman's Pride':  metallic silver, 8" tall Lamiastrum galeobdolon 'Variegatum'
                                                              Lamiastrum galeobdolon 'Variegatum'
                                                              synonym: Lamiastrum galeobdolon 'Florentinum'
                                                                where:  groundcover in difficult shady areas, including under trees
                                                                  with:  spring bulbs, early wildflowers, ferns on moist sites
                                                                There is more information to be found at the link below.

                                                              • yellow Archangel
                                                              • yellow Archangel with variegated foliage

                                                              • LAMIUM

                                                                Dead Nettle, also called Spotted Dead Nettle, is another groundcover for shaded areas. Much prettier than the common names would suggest. The correct pronunciation for this genus is LAY-mee-um.

                                                                Lamium maculatum:  Dead Nettle, False Salvia, 6-12"x12-24"

                                                                  where:  groundcover, edger, over walls, in containers (too vigorous for the rock garden)
                                                                    with:  Hosta, ferns, spring-flowering bulbs
                                                                      in moist acidic conditions with:  Gaultheria procumbens
                                                                        under:  flowering shrubs, evergreens, high-canopied shade trees
                                                                      Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver':  pink form of 'White Nancy'
                                                                        with:  Chrysanthemum 'Mei-Kyo'
                                                                      Lamium maculatum 'Shell Pink':  soft pink flowers to 6"
                                                                        Lamium maculatum 'Shell Pink'
                                                                        under:  flowering shrubs, evergreens, high-canopied shade trees
                                                                          with:  spring-flowering bulbs, Hosta, Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy', ferns
                                                                        Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy':  clear white
                                                                          combined with:  Aruncus dioicus 'Kneiffii', Gentiana 'Benichidori' & Gillenia
                                                                            interplanted with:  Galanthus nivalis followed by white Martagon lilies
                                                                              interplanted with:  Scilla sibirica
                                                                                not with:  Eranthis hyemalis, Anemone
                                                                                  with:  Lamium maculatum 'Pink Pewter' or 'Shell Pink'
                                                                                    for contrast with:  Heuchera americana 'Dale's Strain'
                                                                                  A wealth of choices to brighten up shady spots in your garden can be found at the links that follow.

                                                                                • pink Lamium
                                                                                • Lamium with silver foliage
                                                                                • white Lamium
                                                                                • Lamium with variegated foliage

                                                                                • LIGULARIA

                                                                                  If you can provide a constantly moist spot in light shade, this large-leaved beauty may be your perfect choice. Tall yellow spires of bloom reach high overhead.

                                                                                  Ligularia dentata:  Big-Leaved Ligularia, 3-4'x2-3'

                                                                                    synonym:  Ligularia clivorum
                                                                                      where:  pondside, in rich, moist to wet soil, on cool sites
                                                                                        with:  ferns, Hosta (esp. large-leaved forms), Iris, Japanese Iris, Ornamental Grasses
                                                                                      Ligularia stenocephala 'The Rocket':  yellow with purple-black stems, 4-6'x2-3'
                                                                                        synonym:  Ligularia przewalskii
                                                                                          where:  background plant, waterside, for rich, moist soils
                                                                                            note:  does not thrive in shade, but wilts in sun even when moist
                                                                                              preference:  place for filtered shade from hot sun from the west
                                                                                                with:  Iris ensata (Japanese Iris, including plants listed as Iris kaempferi), large-leaved Hosta (especially large-leaved types)
                                                                                                  with:  Rodgersia
                                                                                                    amid:  tall plants that cast shade for part of the day, i.e. Echinops ritro, Phlox paniculata (try a red type),
                                                                                                      pale purple perennials to tie the colours together


                                                                                                  LIRIOPE

                                                                                                  Many shade-loving plants produce their flowers early in the season. Not so the Lilyturf. Excellent as a ground cover of grass-like leaves, this plant blooms late in the summer. Pronounce the name of this genus lih-RYE-oh-pee.

                                                                                                  Liriope:  Lilyturf, 12-18"x12-24"

                                                                                                    over:  Narcissus, Crocus (fall-blooming)
                                                                                                      with:  Verbena, Helictotrichon sempervirens, Yucca, Aquilegia, Limonium
                                                                                                    Liriope muscari 'Majestic':  Blue Lilyturf, Zone 6, 8-16"x12"
                                                                                                      where:  even dense shade, tolerates drought
                                                                                                    Liriope muscari 'Monroe White':  reseeds Liriope muscari 'Variegata':  creamy-yellow edged foliage
                                                                                                      where:  takes shade;  more sun = broader, brighter margins
                                                                                                    If you prefer the colour white for its pop-out-of-the-shadows effect or if your taste runs to variegated foliage, check out the ideas at the following links.

                                                                                                  • white Liriope
                                                                                                  • Liriope with variegated foliage

                                                                                                  • LYSIMACHIA

                                                                                                    This Loosestrife is no relation to the Purple Loosestrife we've all eradicated from our gardens. You can grow these plants safely and enjoy the white or yellow blooms without worry. Reference books give the pronunciation as lye-sih-MAW-kee-uh or lye-sih-MAY-kee-uh. I prefer the former.

                                                                                                    Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea':  Creeping Jenny, bright golden leaves, 2-4"x18"

                                                                                                    For more information about Loosestrife and perennials to plant with it check out the links below.

                                                                                                  • white Loosestrife forms
                                                                                                  • yellow Loosestrife forms
                                                                                                  • Loosestrife with variegated foliage

                                                                                                  • MERTENSIA

                                                                                                    In April and May, the drooping bell-shaped blue and pink flowers of Virginia Bluebells put in their graceful appearance. Alas, the plant will then go dormant, even the foliage disappearing completely by July.

                                                                                                    Mertensia virginica:  Virginia Bluebells

                                                                                                    More information about growing Virginia Bluebells can be found below.

                                                                                                  • blue Mertensia

                                                                                                  • MYOSOTIS

                                                                                                    This biennial, usually treated as a self-seeding annual, can provide a blue, pink or white haze in the spring garden. They are delightful on their own or amid patches of tulips or daffodils.

                                                                                                    Myosotis:  Forget-Me-Not

                                                                                                      generally with:  spring-blooming bulbs, perennials
                                                                                                        in drifts around or over:  late-flowering bulbs, Primula, Paeonia
                                                                                                          interplanted with:  Darwin Tulipa (vibrant pink or red)
                                                                                                            with:  Tulipa 'Mariette', Tulipa praestans 'Fusilier', Narcissus, Aurinia saxatilis, Viola tricolor 'King Henry',
                                                                                                              Galium odoratum
                                                                                                            (pink) echo under/with:  Tulipa ( a similar or brighter pink)
                                                                                                              (blue) echo under/with:  Hyacinthus (darker blue)
                                                                                                            Myosotis alpestris 'Victoria':  dark blue
                                                                                                              with:  Tulipa 'Mariette', Narcissus, Aurinia saxatilis, Viola tricolor
                                                                                                            Myosotis sylvatica:  Woodland Forget-me-Not, 6-9"x6"
                                                                                                              where:  under spring bulbs, esp. Tulipa spp.
                                                                                                            Myosotis sylvatica 'Victoria Dark Blue'
                                                                                                              after:  Primula, Viola


                                                                                                            OMPHALODES

                                                                                                            This plant does not appear in many of my favourite gardening books. Navelwort will grow in any moisture-retentive soil and makes a wonderful blooming ground cover under trees or shrubs. Dead-head to prolong the blue flower display.

                                                                                                            Omphalodes:  Navelwort

                                                                                                              where:  groundcover in shade
                                                                                                                over:  Crocus, Erythronium, dwarf Narcissus


                                                                                                              PHLOX

                                                                                                              The woodland species of Phlox will thrive in light to full shade with evenly moist humus-rich soil. Choose any of the ones below for lovely early colour in your shade garden. The one least appetizing to deer is Phlox divaricata.

                                                                                                              Phlox:  shade-loving forms

                                                                                                                with:  ferns, spring bulbs, shade-loving wildflowers
                                                                                                                  with:  Pulmonaria, Dicentra, Hosta
                                                                                                                Phlox x chattahoochee:  Chattahoochee Phlox, lavender, 6-8" tall
                                                                                                                  where:  lightly shaded woodland but will also take full sun
                                                                                                                    with:  Convallaria majalis
                                                                                                                  Phlox divaricata:  Wild Blue Phlox, Woodland Phlox, 10-15"x12"
                                                                                                                    synonym:  Phlox canadensis
                                                                                                                      where:  partial shade, wild or woodland gardens, under trees/flowering shrubs, as edger in shady border
                                                                                                                        with:  spring bulbs, Pulmonaria, Convallaria majalis, Campanula, Doronicum orientale, Dicentra,
                                                                                                                          Hosta
                                                                                                                        with:  ferns, wildflowers i.e. Aquilegia canadensis, Mertensia virginica, Asarum canadense, Helleborus,
                                                                                                                          Tiarella cordifolia
                                                                                                                        combined with:  white Trillium, Polemonium reptans & Tiarella
                                                                                                                          combined with:  Sanguinaria canadensis, Tiarella wherryi, purple-leaved form of Heuchera, ferns, Hosta,
                                                                                                                            Viola, Disporum (Fairy-Bells) sessile 'Variegatum' (spring-blooming 18" woodland bulb)
                                                                                                                          in front of or between Azalea spp. with:  Trillium, Asarum, Pulmonaria
                                                                                                                            before:  Papaver orientale
                                                                                                                          Phlox divaricata 'Laphamii':  rich crystal blue, 12"x8"
                                                                                                                            Phlox divaricata 'Laphamii'
                                                                                                                            with:  spring bulbs
                                                                                                                              with wildflowers:  Aquilegia canadensis, Mertensia virginica, Asarum canadense, Tiarella cordifolia
                                                                                                                                with:  Pulmonaria, Convallaria majalis, Campanula, Hosta, ferns, Doronicum orientale, Dicentra, Polygonatum
                                                                                                                              Phlox divaricata 'Louisiana':  purple-blue, dark eye, early
                                                                                                                                with:  Convallaria majalis
                                                                                                                              Phlox stolonifera:  Creeping Phlox, 6-8"x12"
                                                                                                                                where:  groundcover under shrubs, out of full sun, edger, woodland gardens
                                                                                                                                  with:  Stylophorum diphyllum, Primula (soft yellows), Dicentra eximia (soft pinks)
                                                                                                                                Phlox stolonifera 'Blue Ridge':  lilac-blue
                                                                                                                                  awards:  Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year for 1990
                                                                                                                                    with:  Convallaria majalis
                                                                                                                                  Phlox stolonifera 'Sherwood Purple':  strong purple-blue
                                                                                                                                    with:  Convallaria majalis
                                                                                                                                  There are hundreds of Phlox that are best grown out of the shade, as you will see if you follow the links below. More information on how and where to grow them can be found on each of these pages.

                                                                                                                                • numerous Phlox forms
                                                                                                                                • Phlox as edgers
                                                                                                                                • blue Phlox
                                                                                                                                • orange Phlox
                                                                                                                                • pink Phlox
                                                                                                                                • red Phlox
                                                                                                                                • white Phlox
                                                                                                                                • Phlox with variegated foliage

                                                                                                                                • POLEMONIUM

                                                                                                                                  After the flowers of Jacob's Ladder have finished their bloom, the foliage remains tidy and attractive for the rest of the summer.

                                                                                                                                  Polemonium

                                                                                                                                  Polemonium caeruleum:  Jacob's Ladder, Greek Valerian, 18-24"x12" Polemonium caeruleum 'Brise d'Anjou':   Polemonium caeruleum 'Album':  white Jacob's Ladder, 18-24"x12" Polemonium foliosissimum:  lilac, 30"x24" Polemonium reptans:  creeping Jacob's Ladder, 8-16" tallIf the choices above aren't enough, you will find more forms and partnership ideas to help create the garden you want by following the links below.

                                                                                                                                • blue Jacob's Ladder
                                                                                                                                • purple Jacob's Ladder
                                                                                                                                • white Jacob's Ladder
                                                                                                                                • Jacob's Ladder with variegated foliage

                                                                                                                                • FOR MORE PERENNIALS THAT PREFER SHADY SPOTS IN YOUR GARDEN, FOLLOW THE LINKS BELOW.


                                                                                                                                  All of our own Gardens By The Bay pages can be accessed by clicking on the links below.


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                                                                                                                                  BLUE PERENNIALS    Aconitum - Geranium  |  Iris - Vinca

                                                                                                                                  BULBS    Allium - Hyacinthus  |  Narcissus only  |  Tulipa only  |  Minor Bulbs

                                                                                                                                  BUTTERFLY MAGNETS    Anaphalis - Hemerocallis  |  Liatris - Veronicastrum
                                                                                                                                  DAYLILIES      Spider & Unusual Form

                                                                                                                                  EDGERS    Arabis - Iris  |  Nepeta - Veronica

                                                                                                                                  FOLIAGE PERENNIALS     Alchemilla - Tanacetum

                                                                                                                                  HOSTA    Hosta - all

                                                                                                                                  HUMMINGBIRD-FRIENDLY PERENNIALS    Alcea - Salvia

                                                                                                                                  ORANGE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Tulipa

                                                                                                                                  ORNAMENTAL GRASSES    Acorus - Imperata |  Miscanthus - Spodiopogon

                                                                                                                                  PINK PERENNIALS    Achillea - Lilium  |  Lychnis - Veronica

                                                                                                                                  PURPLE PERENNIALS    Aconitum - Liatris  |  Polemonium - Veronica

                                                                                                                                  RED PERENNIALS    Achillea - Veronica

                                                                                                                                  SHADE PERENNIALS    Aegopodium - Erythronium  |  Ferns - Polemonium  |  Polygonatum - Vinca

                                                                                                                                  SILVER FOLIAGE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Cerastium    |    Cornus - Limonium    |    Lunaria - Veronica

                                                                                                                                  SIMPLY SPECIAL PERENNIALS    Acanthus - Saxifraga

                                                                                                                                  WHITE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Iris  |  Kalimeris - Yucca

                                                                                                                                  YELLOW PERENNIALS    Achillea - Hypericum  |  Inula - Verbascum

                                                                                                                                  VARIEGATED-FOLIAGE PERENNIALS    Acorus - Erythronium  |  Hakonechloa - Lysimachia  |  Miscanthus - Yucca

                                                                                                                                  PLANT PROFILES

                                                                                                                                  Dianthus 'Tiny Rubies'  |  Geranium  |  Geum coccineum  |  Kerria japonica  |  Knautia macedonica

                                                                                                                                  Paeonia tenuifolia  |  Papaver somniferum  |  Rudbeckia  |  Salvia 'East Friesland'

                                                                                                                                  Trollius  |  Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue'

                                                                                                                                  PROPAGATION

                                                                                                                                  DIVISION - SPRING ONLY  |   DIVISION - FALL ONLY  |   DIVISION - SPRING OR FALL  |   DO NOT DIVIDE

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