Flower Shade Gardening

February 16, 2017

Flower shade gardening presents opportunities for using plants that you won't see in gardens with an abundance of sun. There are a wide variety of flowers that will grow and bloom into absolutely stunning additions to your garden even though they are in the shade. With a bit of research, you will find it is just as much a pleasure, and just as easy, as working with a sun-filled garden.


It is only specific flowers that do well in shade areas of the garden, so here are some things to consider:

  • soil type you need to use

  • level of watering shade flowers need and how often

  • fertilizer or plant feed is required for specific shade flowers and plants

  • general tips for planting shade flower plants


Perhaps there are trees and shrubs in your garden causing shade on an area you'd like to improve. If this is the case, you may find that roots of shrubs and trees will compete with your new flower plants for food and water. For flower plants to survive, they need nutrients from the soil and moisture when the climate or weather is dry; keep this in mind when planting and caring for shade-loving plants.



You will need to look at the soil and possibly change it to suit shade plants. Most of your plants in shade will like leaf litter that falls off the trees because rotting leaves go towards providing nutrients. Chopping up these leaves using your lawn mower or other tools will speed up decomposition. Once you mulched the leaves, you can spread the mulch between your flowers. You can even add them to your compost as well. Adding some slow releasing fertilizer with the soil mixture will enhance the health of your plants. When your flowering plants obtain the essential nutrients required for wellbeing, they will be more resistant to disease and less likely to develop problems.

Soil conditions in shade areas can vary a lot during the day and even over the course of the year. It is always best to have a controlled environment to give your plants the best growing conditions. In this regard, garden mulches are great to use as part of a garden design. Mulch has many benefits; it retains moisture content in the soil, prevents weed growth, and many shady tolerant plants are used to growing among types of mulch.



With the proper soil and mulch, watering will be easy to do and won't be such a chore in drier weather. Moisture will be held in place by the mulch along with the nutrients that the plants need. Test the moisture content of the soil visually to see if there is any evidence of wilting plants. Also, feel the soil; if it is dry, it will be in need of watering. The only way to water is to make sure you do it thoroughly. Water must go down to the roots. Shallow watering will make the roots come to the surface to find water which isn't a good result. The roots should go down to find water, not stay on the surface. Without the sun, evaporation will be minimal, but don't forget that the wind can dry out soil very quickly. Cloudy days that are windy are exactly the days that you should check on the water and moisture situation. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that just because the sun isn't out all day that the wind will not dry out your soil.


Although there are a variety of flower plants you can choose from, they may have varying requirement for sun and/or shade. Some prefer dappled shade, others a much shadier space with little or no sun all day, and some do like to get a few hours of sun but not the whole day and not intense sun. Be sure to Identify the Shade in Your Garden because it will impact flower growth. Be sure to decide what sort of shade you have in the area you are going to plant your flowers or shrubs. You may find areas where roots from trees and shrubs are relatively dry due to the competition for moisture. Not a problem, just add your soil/compost mix about 6 to 8 inches deep with a border to hold everything in place. If the environment is very wet, you need to choose plants that will survive in soil with a lot of moisture. Some plants simply don't like too much moisture, or having their roots saturated all the time.


Shade Plants Tips to Consider
It is not enough just to know that a plant is shade-loving. While choosing suitable shade plants for your garden, it is highly recommended to also consider the following shade garden tips:


Weather Conditions
Will you be able to protect your plant, especially in winter season? Some plants are quite hardy, while the others are more delicate, with no resistance to winter frosts, so it might be necessary to keep them indoors for a few weeks. Another crucial aspect is your climate zone. Depending on a climate zone, the same plant may require different methods of care and maintenance.


Natural Environment
Most shade-loving plants can be found in the wild (Native Plants), and it is essential to replicate their needs if you choose to plant them in your garden. Shade garden tips include making sure that Ph. of the soil and the soil type is just right, as well as light and moisture conditions.


Invasive Nature of Plants
Some plants have a tendency to spread very aggressively. It is better to decide in advance whether you can use this tendency to your advantage or whether aggressive spreading plants will only create problems.


Susceptibility to Diseases
Naturally, it is better to choose plants with a high level of disease resistance and try to find out whether they are susceptible to gardening pests and insect damage. If the answer is yes, be prepared for garden pests or disease so you can take immediate action when needed.


Companion Plants
Some plants are rather sensitive to other species that grow nearby, and on the other hand, there are plants that benefit from being close to each other, called companion planting. It is important to know plants preferences prior to planting, especially if you are planning to create a composite flower bed with lots of different plants. It is always best to choose plants native to your area. Native plants require much less maintenance and are more likely to flourish. When selecting plants for shade gardening, you should not concentrate just on perennial shade flowers as there are lots of ornamental ground cover plants with really beautiful leaves along with some amazing perennial shrubs to choose from.


Lightening the Shady Garden
Although you may not be able do very much about controlling direct sunlight, you can control the reflected sunlight in your garden. Use light colors, or even white, for your fences and walls to reflect sunlight. If your garden is large enough for a stone pathway, you can use light-colored stones for reflection. If the garden is not big enough, then add some decorative light stones around your flower and vegetable beds to reflect light. Decorative stones can give your garden a more natural look at the same time as helping to reflect light. Outdoor solar lights are brilliant for brightening up your garden during the evening and night.


Use of stones
If you cannot get the ideal plants for full shade areas of your garden, try using arrangements of stones instead. Large ornamental stones placed in well-chosen positions can add interest and focal points in a garden. Try placing them in darker to more shady areas to get maximum benefit. That way your garden will not look empty and the stones can add class to your garden design. You can also design a walkway to go through shady gardens where possible.


Use of Pots and Containers

Pot gardening makes plants mobile. This is important in shade gardening because with mobile container plants you do not have to plan your plant positions strictly by shade considerations. You can give your garden a better overall appearance by placing certain potted plants in areas where they typically won’t grow. If they are potted, you can move them around on a regular basis to give them good growing conditions such as sunlight and still retain the charm of your garden.

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