Shade is often a nightmare for gardeners and often results in shady spots becoming no-grow areas for many plants. Shady spots can come in all shapes and sizes and are often the result of trees, not facing walls or thick plant cover. Shade can be more of a problem for urban gardens where there is more obstacles blocking the natural light. As a result of shade, adequate light is not available for plants and soil is often heavier and cooler as a result. However, there are a surprising amount of plants that can tolerate different levels of shade. These shady characters can range from shrubs to annuals to perennials which means there is lots of variety to chose from. There is bound to be one to fit your own needs and finally add some much needed life to any cool nook in your garden. We suggest visiting your local GroMór centre and see there range of shade tolerant plants.
Types of Shade
All plants will have a different degree of shade tolerance, some will have no tolerance but others love the shade and prefer it to the light. Woodlands are an excellent example of an area that has strong shade but is still full of life. Most plants wont tolerate constant deep shade, however there are a lot of plants who love shaded and moist spots. Here is a guide to the types of garden shade:
An area that only receives 2 or 3 hours of sunlight in either the early mourning or late evening. Midday sun is the strongest and most beneficial light.
Sites that only receive light that has either been reflected or diffused. These areas do not receive any direct light throughout the day.
These are places that do not receive any light and are in constant shade. For this reason the soil is often cool and dry or moist (not in-between). Deep shade is typically found at the base of trees and walls.
Tips for Shade
If you have a large tree in your garden which is casting too much shade, try and remove the bottom layer of branches to let some light through to open up your planting options. Incorporate reflective elements into your garden to ensure more light gets through, this could involve installing a pond or a water feature, using mirrors throughout your garden or use bright stone chipping or paving slabs. When choosing plants for shady areas, use pale bright colours like whites and pale pinks to ensure they stand out in the dark. Be sure to consult with your local GroMór expert on what is right for your space.
Hydrangea is a very popular shrub with big pompom flower heads available in shades of pink, white or blue. These hardy plants can tolerate most types of shade except deep shade and perform well in any type of soil.
Ferns are a luscious iconic plant that love all conditions. Ferns are known for loving all types of shade, try an Osmunda Regalis or Japanese Painted varieties for the wet Irish climate.
Heuchera are a very popular evergreen perennial, they are renowned for there rich colours that can rival even that of a flower. They enjoy the shade with the exception of deep shade. Try the Cherry Cola for a deep red or Amber Waves for a butterscotch colour.
Hostas are one of the best foliage plants and thrive is shade prone areas. These resilient and easy-to-grow plants are available in a wide range of leaf colours, sizes and shapes. Try a Francis William variety for stunning broad foliage.
Camellias are one of the most popular winter and spring flowering shrubs, providing a vivid splash of colour. Remember Camellias like an acidic soil (not common in Ireland) so use an Ericaceous compost. They also enjoy partial shade.
Primula, also known as primroses, are a lovely little bedding plant that blooms early spring. They are available in a large assortment of gorgeous colours and are known to grow in harsh shade.
Hardy Geraniums are very easy to grow and maintain and are not susceptible to pests like rabbits and slugs. They come in varieties of pinks, reds and whites and are able to flower in shady areas.
Acer also known as Japanese Maples, are a small, slow growing ornate tree. They are available in a broad range of colours and leaf textures, going from deep reds and lush greens with feathery or defined leaves. They are delicate and love sheltered shaded areas away from the wind.
Foxgloves These elegant wildflowers are ideal to achieve a country garden look. The wildflower is often found in woodlands and enjoys being planted in semi shaded areas. Their tubular flowers are a favourite for bees and butterflies. Remember to keep an eye on your children and pets if foxgloves are around, as they can contain some elements that are poisonous if ingested.
Saracococca is a bushy evergreen shrub that has glossy deep green leaves with tiny extremely scented creamy white flowers during winter. These are the perfect plant for winter when nothing else is blooming and can tolerate strong shade.