Shady window box

I have a window box that's in virtual darkness that I have not been very successful with.... I hate planting that many annuals every year, it seems like a waste. And then in the winter, it just looks awful to have nothing in it, but to tell you the truth, I do nothing outside after the temperature drops below 40 degrees (and I'm in zone 5, so that means pretty much from late October on). So I thought it might be nice to put in some dwarf or midget conifers as the primary plant and then fill in with annuals or something else. BUT the garden center had some lovely midget mugho pines, Alberta spruce and arborvitae, but they all said "full sun." I've had some other "full sun" plants that have done well in other parts of my property that are part-shade (sedum, for one) and was wondering if these would die if I put them in there....
If this is a really bad idea, does anyone have any ideas (pictures would be nice) for creating a shady window box? The space is huge - about 7' long.
Chris O'Meally
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Hellebores can be grown down to zone 5, they like bright shade, & can tolerate a little bit of droughtiness which container plants all too often experience. In my area (zone 8) the umbrella-leaves are evergreen through winter, though I cut them off about the time it is starting to bloom. Your area's so much colder I don't know if they'd be so evergreen though.
A windowbox of shade-lovin' wintergreen mini-shrubs would be lovely & they would definitely be fully evergreen in your zone, & take very little care to flourish. Flowers are small but very pretty, & bright red berries numerous, long lasting, & showy.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Christine,
Here in Zone 5b we often cut lots of evergreen tips from assorted native trees around Thanksgiving and insert them into our windowboxes, they take up space and really do not brown off until time to plant pansies, snapdragons, and alyssum...... which is NOW! YIPPEEEEE!
Other items I depend on for the summer boxes in deep shade are tuberous begonia, caladium, and one of my indoorplants -- prayer plant. But they don't go out until the weather settles beyond frost warnings
You can have satisfying window boxes in Z 5 as long as you don't want to be in Z 7. Patience and refusal to be swayed by advertising are necessary.
Sue Western Maine

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you could try dwarf alberta spruce - it would probably prefer some sun, but might tolerate a fair amount of shade and dark, if there is some reflected light somewhere around it. Otherwise, the suggestion about cut evergreen boughs is a good one. Our Christmas wreaths easily last 2 months out doors, and they might have been cut in early November for all we know when we get them.

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Christine O'Meally Wrote:

hardy to zone 5) that can work as ground cover, low mounding shrubs o trailers (they will climb a wall if positioned against one. Euonymu 'Harlequin' is particularly pretty, with small green leavest that ar heavily mottled with cream, and I have one growing in dense shade by north-facing wall under a tree. Variegated ivies are also attractive I think it's only the yellow variegated ones that need sun for goo colour - the green and white/cream ones are okay in dense shade. can't think of any conifers that would be happy in that much shade.
For summer colour, there are the old tried-and-tested annuals for shad such as impatiens and mimululs (I'm trying Impatiens 'Jungle Gold' thi year, which apparently needs shade to flower well). Nemophila wil also flower in shade
-- Ornata
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