Shade-Loving Plants for the Garden

Do you have a shaded area in your garden where it seems like nothing will grow there? Full shade areas can look dreary but don’t worry, there are plants to suit every garden, and all you need is a little creativity. There are so many varieties on offer in a mix of shapes, sizes and colours suitable for brightening any shaded spot. Below, we have compiled a list of our most suitable picks, from ground cover to perennial flowers and grasses, to add to any shaded spot in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suitability

To grow healthy plants in shady areas, it is important to match the degree of shade that a plant needs or will tolerate with available light. Do you know which type of shade applies to your garden?

Partial Shade: A situation in half sun and half shade where there is some direct sun but possibly for less than half the hours of daylight.

Full Shade: Under tree cover, shrubberies, and  buildings. If a site gets less than 2 hours of direct sun a day, it is considered heavy shade.

 

A common misconception is that there are a group of plants that love shade, but the truth is that some plants can tolerate shady areas better than others. Here’s an easy checklist to decide whether the plants you are considering for a shady area are really a suitable candidate. They will need to be either:

  • Suitable for neutral to acid soils
  • Variegated foliage
  • Evergreen
  • Prefer moist or wet soil

Perennials

Some may think they have no choice but to add foliage to shaded areas of the garden. However, shade flowering perennials thrive in areas that receive little to no direct sunlight and can help to bring a little colour to a dark corner. Here are some of our suggestions for shade tolerant blooms:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a beautiful perennial to brighten up a shaded spot? Our Acanthus mollis Whitewater produces tall spikes of white flowers against their backdrop of dark green variegated foliage; a perfect addition to borders or large patio containers.

Tip – These pretty flowers can be cut for vase displays or dried floral arrangements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This fascinating clump-forming perennial produces striking mint scented flowers of a deep purple shade against bronze tinged foliage. Monarda Blaustrumpf would make the perfect addition for flower beds and borders and thrive in semi or full shade where other perennials may struggle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This useful and hardy plant does well in all types of shade. Geranium Versicolor is ideal for planting in borders or patio pots for adding striking and unusual blooms to your garden with their vivid pink veined white flowers. This variety makes for great ground-cover in full or partial shade.

 

Ground Cover

It can be difficult to find hardy shade ground cover for those difficult areas of the garden that can lie blank and shady, but once you put your imagination cap on you can discover several different varieties that make the perfect ground cover for those shaded areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not all Euphorbias do well in shade but Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ is an exception. This rapid growing ground cover plant produces amazing dark purple foliage with contrasting lime-green flowers from Spring in to early summer, making this variety an ideal candidate for borders, patio pots or containers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reliable evergreen shrub is perfect for bringing some colour to shady areas. Also known as the variegated leaf Periwinkle, Vinca major Variegata produces pretty violet-blue flowers from late spring in to summer; a perfect plant for growing anywhere in the garden, even underneath trees.

Products: Lime Marmalade (left), Creme Brulee (middle) and Berry Smoothie (right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These charming evergreen clumps of roundish leaves with lobed or scalloped edges come in every colour under the sun. Here we’ve picked out Heuchera Lime Marmalade, Heuchera Creme Brulee and Heuchera Berry Smoothie as our top recommendations for their vibrant hues. Especially when combined with other shade-loving perennials, Heuchera are amazing for ground cover, borders or in front of shrubs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bored of plain foliage? This stunning silver touched deep green foliage that becomes dotted with spikes of pretty white blossoms in spring and early summer. This evergreen shrub is perfect for adding interest to your border displays and in any shaded spot in the garden.

Ferns

Happy to grow in inhospitable spots, many ferns are evergreen, and since they come in a range of shapes and sizes, you are certain to find the perfect fern fit for any shady spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as the Harts Tongue Fern, Asplenium scolopendrium is an evergreen fern with luscious upright green foliage. This hardy evergreen needs little attention in the garden, provides colour all year round and can even be grown in woodland/under trees or shady borders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This small and easy-to-grow fern is the perfect plant for the border or rock garden in full or partial shade. With a mass of golden yellow leaves and striking red stems, this exotic Athyrium Vidalii is guaranteed to provide a dash of unique colouring to even the shadiest parts of the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a fern full of vibrant colour, the coppery red fronds of this Dryopteris erythrosora is the perfect option for your garden. This gorgeous plant can be planted in the border, patio pots or containers and are very tolerant of most conditions making them the perfect shade partner.

Grasses

Ornamental grasses provide many attractive functions in the garden. They are extremely adaptable, low maintenance, and have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way of creating a relaxing and calming effect in the garden. With their increasing popularity, more options have become available, and numerous lovely grasses are suitable for shade planting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This stunning evergreen perennial grass is the perfect addition for containers or a shady border as these plants thrive whether planted in sun, partial shade or full shade. With Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’s’ extraordinarily eye-catching green leaves with bright orange tips, this variety also changes in to a dark orange colour with brown flowers in the summer time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This highly versatile grass variety is ideal for planting in containers, near water features in gravel, in the border or alongside other grasses. With stunning needle-like leaves, Festuca Golden Toupee produces grey-green leaves that turn a bright yellow shade in the spring and thrive in pretty deep shade for bringing stunning vibrant hues of colour to a shaded garden.

Bulbs

It can be difficult to find blooms to rectify an unloved shaded area, however here are a few suggestions for bulbs to brighten up your garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This hardy perennial excels in partial or full shade. With pointed green leaves and slender, soft yellow bells that drop from its branched stems, Uvularia grandiflora makes a great addition to pots, containers and this variety even makes excellent cut flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A smooth cocktail of colours, purple buds opening to apricot, with rose shadings. Geum Mai Tai have fuzzy, dark green pinnate leaves and erect purple stems holding the semi double flowers. These hardy perennial plants will flower all summer from June right through to September and are suitable for partial shaded borders in the garden.

Climbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With giant showy milk-white lace cap type flowers blooming over vigorous glossy green foliage. This fantastic, self-clinging Hydrangea petiolaris is the best climber for a shaded north wall. Very low maintenance needing only an occasional trim, left undisturbed it can grow up to a height and spread of 5m+ but will withstand gentle pruning to any manageable height to suit your garden.

ENJOY PLANTING THIS SPRING!

Complete Guide: How To Plant Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia)

Zantedeschia, often known as Arum lilies or Calla lilies, are popular exotic looking plants that are native to South Africa. They will bear narrow, lance or funnel shaped flowers in the most fantastic array of colours and are particularly effective when grown in groups within a border, or planted in pots and spread out on the patio.

There are a wide range of varieties, in sizes ranging from 40cm to 90cm and a dazzling array of colours to choose from. Their exotic looking flowers look particularly striking in cut flower arrangements, giving your bouquets an exciting tropical look. And, if overwintered in a sheltered spot, the tubers can produce a great display for many years.

They are particularly attractive when in flower, with dark green foliage (mottled on some varieties) and distinct colour flowers that can be solid or two toned.

Varieties

There are many distinctions between the different varieties of Zantedeschia but one of the most noteworthy is that some are considered as ‘Hardy’ and some are considered ‘Tender’. In theory, with our climate in the UK, all the varieties would survive a mild-normal winter as even the ‘tender’ varieties are hardy to -12 degrees celsius.

Zantedeschia Aethiopica is truly hardy and will survive temperatures down to a chilly -25 degrees!  It can even be planted in baskets and submerged up to 30cm deep for planting in and around a pond or water feature, a marvellously versatile plant.

If you are worried about a particularly cold frost or live in a very exposed location you can always add some winter protection like mulch or lift the tubers and store them over winter in a dry, cool and dark environment.  They can then be replanted in spring.

The more tender Zantedeschia can be grown as a conservatory or house plant, as well as a patio plant. These tubers should be protected from the frost with deep winter mulch.

Some of our Favourites

Zantedeschia Cantor (Calla Lily)

A very popular variety for contemporary flower arrangements, exotic Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) Cantor boasts the deepest purple of any Calla, almost black. Gorgeous waxy spathes in deep aubergine-burgundy surround a matching spadix, giving a mysterious, unusual look. Height 60cm. Flowering May-October. Top size 16cm+ tubers supplied for exhibition quality flowers which last up to ten weeks.

Zantedeschia Lipstick (Calla Lily)

The Calla Lipstick presents gentle cream spadices, surrounded by contrasting vivid pink spathes which fade to spring green at the floral chamber; where the magnificent flower head is held up by succulent tube-like stems. Broad, wavy foliage in a spring green adorn the base. Exhibition quality 16cm+ tubers supplied. Flowers May to October. Height 60cm.

Zantedeschia aethiopica (Calla Lily)

Hardy Zantedeschia aethiopica is a wonderful, well known outdoor flowering Calla Lily that is sometimes also known fondly as the White Arum Lily. This premium variety looks superb grown in groups within the flower bed and border, or equally as effective planted and grown on the patio in pots or containers. Supplied as 12cm+ tubers, they are great for naturalising and multiplying to offer larger displays as the years progress. Calla Lily aethiopica will produce gorgeous summer white flowers from late May through to June, coupled with waxy green foliage.

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How to Plant Callas

Planting Zantedeschia is an easy process – they like moist, well drained soil and not to be planted too deep (allow the tops of the tubers to be at ground level). Where possible plant them in a sunnier location as, being from native to Africa, they will really appreciate it.

Grow in humus rich soil, in full sun access. Plant the tubers shallow, so top of tubers are slightly exposed. Calla lilies can be cultivated indoors in loam based potting compost in full light. Water freely and apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks until the flowers have faded. Keep just moist in winter.

One of the added bonuses of planting Calla Lilies in your garden or in patio pots are the absolutely stunning cut flowers they can produce. Each tuber will produce a number of stems as it flowers and this will increase as the tubers become established over the coming years. Brighten up any room with a delightful bouquet or surprise a friend / family member with a bunch of stunning flowers.

We recommend accompanying them with low-growing plants to provide filling foliage over the base areas and covering up those thin stems. Anything that provides fullness and has a shallow root system serves best as a Calla companion, such as New Guinea Impatiens, Astilbes or Hydrangeas.

Getting the most from your Tubers

Callas can be lifted after flowering so that you can store them throughout winter and plant again in spring. Simply dig them up at the end of their flowering time once they have died back, the best time for this is usually in autumn around the time the first frosts are beginning to set in. Dust off soil and place the somewhere cool and dry on some old newspaper for several days, to allow them to really dry off. These can now be stored in a dark, dry area and a cool spot in some peat moss over the winter.

Once spring arrives again and the temperatures turn mild, you can plant your Calla again and enjoy their beauty year after year!

Complete Guide: How To Plant Dahlia Tubers

Dahlias are an essential choice for the summer garden. The easy-to-grow tubers will produce a phenomenal display of colour in a range of styles with beautiful dense foliage. Dahlia work perfectly with almost all types of plants, and complement any garden wonderfully regardless of size.

Whether you’re looking to add some vibrancy to your summer, decorate your patio with impressive pot/container displays or grow a ready supply of cut flowers – Dahlias can do it all.

Background

Dahlias are native to Mexico, and the country’s national flower. The Aztecs grew Dahlia tubers as a food crop, and they were widely used there for their nutritional and medicinal properties long before being propagated for their beauty.

It wasn’t until 1789 when the plants were sent to Abbe Antonio José Cavanilles, Director of the Royal Gardens of Madrid, that they got the name we know them by today. Named after the famous 18th Century botanist Anders Dahl, Dahlias were then developed and cultivated to the wide selection of hybrids and varieties we have today – with 42 different species.

Why Choose Dahlias?

  1. They are easy to grow, and suitable for gardeners of all skill levels. They are fast growing by their nature and will flower in the first year and for many years to come (just keep them stored and frost free over the winter).
  2. They are versatile and will tolerate most types of well drained, fertile soil or compost. They can be grown successfully in pots, tubs, window boxes and in borders.
  3. They are one of our favourite summer bulbs because of the many different types/sizes/colours available, which all look slightly different in shape, but are all equal in beauty.
  4. Year after year sees many new exciting new varieties introduced which means once hooked on Dahlias, you will continually be able to find and try something new.
  5. They flower continuously through the summer, right up until the first frost of the autumn.
  6. They look fantastic as cut flowers and are great for lovers of something a little different.

Varieties

The main types of Dahlias available can be classified into a number of different categories, representing the main characteristics of the flower blooms themselves.

Anemone Flowering – Also known as Powder Puff Dahlias, these beauties produce unique flowers with double feathered central petals resembling a Powder Puff.

Cactus – A favourite for many years, Cactus Dahlias produce fully double pointed petals which turn backwards to create a tubular petal effect. Sometimes referred to as Spiky Dahlias, they are perfect for the border.

Dark Leaf – These Dahlias are a little different in that their foliage is not the usual green colours of most varieties. They create an abundance of flowers through the summer as expected, however the blooms appear on darker (usually purple/black) foliage.

Decorative – The largest range of large, fully double flowers with rounded petals through the summer right up until the first frosts. They produce masses of flowers for cutting purposes.

Dwarf Gallery – A range of smaller, more petite Dahlias which are perfect for the front of the border. They are prolific flowering varieties, look also great planted mixed together in pots on the patio.

Dinner Plate – As the name suggests these are the largest flowers within the range, often up to as much as 25cm in diameter (see illustration below). Try these as cut flowers and be certain to draw attention.

Pompom – Love the unusual, then these are certainly for you. Almost spherical flowers (like balls) appear through the summer. The petals have rounded tips and are curved upwards at the edges. The flower heads are also slightly flattened towards the centre.

Dahlia Tubers

All our Dahlias are supplied as top quality dormant tubers which can be planted straight into the place where they are bloom (their final location). Success rate from these dahlia tubers is extremely high and they are a relatively inexpensive way to create a large number of flowers from one tuber.

Dahlia tubers can be planted 10cm deep in fertile well drained soil, outdoors in spring when the frost has disappeared. They prefer to be in a sunny location and spaced at approximately 45cm apart. In areas where there is extreme cold, dig up dahlias and store in a cool peat over the winter. Apply a high potash fertiliser every few weeks in the summer to help growth and they can be dead headed when necessary.

How to grow Dahlia plants in pots or containers

A fantastic way to brighten up your patio is to introduce some Dahlias in pots/containers. The colour range is fantastic, with many unusual bi-colour varieties which will brighten up any space. Simply beautiful to sit back and look at during a warm summer afternoon.

  1. Once your tubers arrive safely in the post, they can be soaked overnight in a bucket of water to soak up as much moisture as possible.
  2. When all signs of frost have passed they are ready to pot up, giving plenty of time to get well established before the summer.
  3. It is recommended to place some pebbles at the bottom of the pots before adding the compost to help with drainage, by ensuring the compost doesn’t block the drainage holes.
  4. Fill in some compost and then add the tuber with the growing tip facing upwards.
  5. Continue to fill in the rest of the compost to firmly hold the tuber, making sure the growing tip at the top is peeping out and is not completely covered. This is now ready to be moved to the patio or garden area, with access to as much sun as possible.
  6. Water well after potting and then keep compost moist but not waterlogged as tubers will rot. You can add a liquid feed weekly during the growing season and provide some protection from slugs as they really love Dahlias.
  7. If growing tall varieties, insert a cane to help with growth and to keep secure.
  8. Little pruning is needed on Dahlias, however you can deadhead as flowers begin to fade.

More Dahlia Tutorials

Dwarf Gallery Dahlias

Cactus Dahlias

Bishop Dahlias

Planting Begonias: Summer Containers & Baskets

With March having arrived and with the weather finally beginning to warm up a little, it is now time to begin putting our gardening plans into action for the summer. Bluebells have sprung in abundance, Snowdrops are as reliably present as ever and the sight of the beloved Daffodil in the past few weeks has offered much encouragement to us gardeners (in a year were we have seen unusually high levels of rainfall earlier this year).

Spring is always one of our favourite seasons and equally one of the busiest, let’s get planting and let’s get preparing!
Each year in our own garden we love to test and trial new varieties and introductions, it keeps things new and interesting for us, but our garden is never without one of our most popular and best-selling summer flowering plants of all time – Begonias. The versatility, vibrancy of colour and relative inexpensiveness of Begonias, especially when grown for tubers, make them a must for the garden this summer and for many years to come. Whether grown for hanging baskets where they can trail beautifully or for containers and troughs where upright varieties will provide character and charm, please consider these perennial plants, we hope you will agree that once tried that you will find them difficult to ignore in the future.

A reliable, star attraction

Non Stop Begonia
Non Stop Begonia

Begonias, part of the Begoniacea family. have been around for many years and although some varieties can be grown indoors, typically here in Britain they have become one of our most commonly grown summer flowering perennials outdoors. Begonias, named by the famous botanist Charles Plumier, are well worthy if their place in the garden, flowering continuously through the summer months, often right up until the first frosts of autumn.

Growing Begonias from quality tubers helps improve results, they are very reliable and can easily be lifted and stored indoors over winter, then replanted the following spring for continued flowering.We only supply the best grade tubers possible to offer you the best results. They are simple to plant, care for and the high level of results they achieve make them an easy choice when growing Begonias.
Fill your hanging baskets with cascading Begonias

Begonia splendide geel/oranje
Begonia splendide Apricot

When looking to fill your summer hanging baskets we often look to traditional trailing plants such as Surfinia, Million Bells and trailing Geraniums. A superb way of mixing things up while still achieving excellent blooms is to try some trailing Begonias.Cascading or Pendula Begonias produce giant sized flowers through the summer months and are easy to plant on arrival. Ideal for hanging baskets mounted to the wall or for containers raised of ground level. For the largest blooms possible try growing on the Giant Exhibition sized 5/6cm tubers, guaranteed to produce up to 100% larger double flowers from each tuber. Chosen and used by the professionals at most garden shows and in large country homes, they are certainly worth that little extra money.

You can add a touch of fragrance to your trailing baskets with our range of Begonia Odorata tubers, which come in a range of colours. You can choose from ‘Odorata Red Glory’, ‘Odorata Pink Delight’ or the hard to ignore classic white ‘Odorata Angelique’. For the premium ‘Shower Bouquet’ effect we recommend the Balcony Begonia Collection, Gold and Pink ruffled edged petals, with a gentle cascading habit. Mix together for a wonderful blend as illustrated.

Try planting three 5/6cm tubers into an average hanging basket, in moist compost for a display that will cascade beautifully over the edges. Begonias are great lovers of moisture and during dry weather they should be watered in the early morning or the evening.

Give your patio pots and containers a splash of colour

Begonia Multiflora Melange
Begonia Multiflora

The versatility of Begonias makes them great for the patio as well as in flower beds. By growing in pots and containers around the garden you can easily add a dash of colour, while having the added benefit of being able to move them around if the need arises. You can choose more compact and upright varieties which can be grown in pots, such as Double Flowering Begonias or for larger blooms with serrated edges why not opt for Fimbriata Begonias, a perfect choice for troughs on a windowsill.Non stop Begonias are compact enough for this but also are quite vigorous growers, so can virtually flower constantly through the entire summer, non-stop as the name suggests. Reaching heights of only 20cm they are great for the front of a border, with some Dahlias or Gladioli towering over them.One of our favourite varieties to grow in pots are the often ignored, but impossible to forget once you grow them yourself, ‘Maxima Switzerland’. The truly sensational dark leaves contrast effectively with the scarlet red flowers. A real treat for the container! ‘Bertinii Skaugman’ will offer your some of the most surprisingly large sized plants possible from a single tuber. ‘Flamboyant’ produces small flowers, but more than makes up for that by the abundance in which they appear.

Begonia fimbriata mixed
Begonia fimbriata mixed

Some top tips for success with Begonias 1. Begonia tubers may be started into growth from February onwards. The easiest way is to put them into shallow boxes containing a mixture of loam, leaf mould and sand. Meanwhile, prepare the potting soil.
Good top soil mixed with one-sixth part of manure should form the basis. To this prepared soil add leaf mould in a proportion of 1 part leaf mould to 3 of loam and enough sand to make a fairly porous compost. Soot and bonemeal added to the compost will be appreciated. As soon as the shoots of the tubers are about 2cm long pot them up in 15cm pots and place them into larger pots as the roots reach the sides of the pot.

2. Plant in full sun or partial shaded areas. The more access to sun, the more vibrant the colours will be.

3. You can feed once every two weeks with a high potassium up until the blooms begin to fade.

4. Make sure they are watered regularly during the summer and that the soil is not allowed to dry out. Begonias love moisture and will use up quite a lot during the hotter spells in the summer.

5. Lift tubers after flowering has finished and the leaves have begun to turn yellow. Store in a dry, cool (but frost-free) location over the winter. Store in soil that is only a little moist and keep this a little moist over the winter (with irregular watering) to keep the tubers from drying out.