Bill asks, “What flowers grow well in the shade? I like them to get about 12 inches or more in height.”
Shade has a reputation of being a challenging and difficult environment to grow plants. But actually there are many plants that can add color and interest to a shady area. While very few plants will grow well in deep dark shade (with the exception of ferns and a few other plants) there are both annuals and perennials that do fine in medium to light shade. Japanese ferns are popular for their white, purple, or burgundy highlights. The blue or white flowering Vinca vine, or Periwinkle does well in deep shade. While this vine can be very invasive, there are variegated leafed varieties that look nice even when not in bloom and are far less aggressive.
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The backbone of a shade garden are the Hosta plants with a variety of variegated leaves. They send up a flower stalk of white or lavender flowers. These perennials can be tiny like the six inch Mini Mouse or the Blue Mouse Ear Hosta or huge like the four to five foot tall Empress Wu Hosta.
A favorite of mine are the wildly colored Caladium plants. The bulbs planted during the summer produce colorful leaves that match or surpass any shade blooming flower.
Smaller lower growing flowers include annual impatiens in a variety of colors, and various types of begonias. I enjoy the double blooming impatiens that resemble tiny roses. I am a big fan of the Dragon Wing Begonia that produces bright red or pink flowers all season long and do well in sun or shade. The Wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri) is a another favorite of mine with their masses of pink, white or blue flowers with a yellow throat.
The Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)is usually grown for its deep red pink, red, or white polka dotted foliage. They produce small violet flowers, but are used for their bright colored leaves. Coleus with their swirls of brightly colored leaves are also grown for shady areas. They produce tiny lavender or blue flowers later in the summer.
There are a variety of shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs that flourish and bloom in shade and produce flowers from early spring to fall!
Image by Anna Pismenskova
Born and raised in Ohio Rick presently lives in an old house in a small central Ohio town, famous for its giant gourds. Rick comes from a family of avid gardeners. Now retired, he had the privilege to work with people with disabilities for over thirty years. His tiny city garden is crammed with an assortment or a collection of plants. During the long cold Ohio winters he continues gardening in the house and in his small backyard greenhouse. He is passionate about plants and writing. In his youth he traveled the world. The diversity of plants around the world is amazing! He especially enjoyed my time teaching in a bush school in Africa and spending a summer with the legendary Masai Tribe on the Serengeti Plain. For years, he has enjoyed the study of the ancient uses for plants and herbs. Many cultures today still believe in the magical qualities of plants. Grow a tomato, a tree, or plant some tulip bulbs, or grow some herbs in your kitchen window. It will make you feel good and you will be making our world a better place!