My wife is on my case to get MORE LONG LASTING COLOR underneath our 60
foot tall maple tree. I have success on the street side of it that
faces east and gets morning sun, but the west side that is heavily
shaded is difficult. The tree is boxed by 4 landscape timbers, e.g. a
small square planting area 8 ft on each side with the 2 ft tree trunk
in the center (the box is only 4 inches tall or less). I have 4 sedum
(one on each side) and planted Ajuga a few years ago as a ground-
cover. At first she liked the Ajuga, but now says it doesn't bloom
for a long enough duration. She recently came home with 4 purple
plants. One each of: Salvia, Red Fox Veronica, Lamb's ear, and
The Red Fox Veronica (Pink Speedwell) is almost dead and I just
moved it to full sun and watered it well. The needed location is
What are my options when it comes to perrennials or self seeders that
show color over the longest time in zone 4 (Midwest) in shade? Please
send as many ideas as possible as I get the idea I will have to try
several to make my wife happy.
If you want color you are probably going to have to move pots of
flowering plants in and out of the shade to maintain blooming.
If you can settle for less than the impossible try going for form/
Look into lamium, hakone grass, heuchera.
Not sure about z4 hardihess on the above but if it were me I'd do some
woods walking and see what is native in similar conditions. Perhaps
I second the pots. You can do beautiful things in pots with all of
the standard shade annuals like impatiens, coleus, and now a host of
other shade-tolerant plants. You'll never get much go grow amongst
the roots of the maples.
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
If the area around the maple is full of the tree's roots few things will
live there. The above plants need sun. You can try impatience/BusyLizzy if
you can keep the area moist and it's not full of tree roots.
Silk flowers or paint. Seriously. Your maple casts heavy shade,
which definitely makes the choice of species that will grow there
into a very small universe. Added to that, maples are very good at
grabbing all the soil moisture possible, so you've got intense competition
for water. Sounds like you've got a little more light on the street
Best choice for color is probably a shade annual like impatiens, in
pots being rotated in and out as they go out of bloom from low light.
Or fancy-leaved plants like caladium or coleus, ditto.
I'd suggest building a bench around the tree, possibly painting the
bench white. Put the pots on the bench, and have a combination
of sit spot and pot staging. White also will give you maximum
reflectance to the leaves.
Seconded. Begonias like shade but need some sun for best leaf color and
flowers. OP, avoid planting just for flowers and go with the suggestions
for colorful foliage plants *in containers*. Caladium are gorgeous, as
are the hostas and huecheras. But it can't be said enough: colorful
shade tolerant plants need some sun to put on their best show. If you
have your plants in containers, you can move them in and out of light if
you have to. Further, you are in Zone 4. Some of your foliage plants
(like caladium) need to come out of the cold. If they're in containers
it's easy as pie to "lift" them in the fall.
You might consider Firespike. Kinda tropical looking foliage on a
small/medium sized plant until fall when there are red blooms on a
scape. Does well for me in shade. Dies back to the ground but returns in
spring here in zone 8.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.