Monday, June 11, 2012

The Fifty Shades of Shade

Ok, there are not really fifty shades of shade, but not all shade is created equal.  The type of shade you have in your garden will determine which type of plants you can grow.

Here are the different types of shade:

  1. Dry Shade: Dry shade has a large canopy of overhanging tree branches that does not allow rain to reach the ground.  The ground is usually also filled with tree roots that will soak up any of the moisture that does reach that area.  Your best bet for a dry shade area is to grow plants in pots so they do not compete with the trees.  Hostas can grow in dry shade, but they will not grow well and may disappear completely if you don't water them well.  Spring blooming plants and woodland natives are also your best bet.  Things like ferns, bluebells, bloodroot, vinca, ajuga, etc.
  2. Moist Shade: Shaded areas along streams, ponds, or other wet areas.  Since hostas love water, they would love moist shade.  Just make sure to plant them at the proper depth.  If you plant them too deep they could end up with crown rot.  Other plants for moist shade: ajuga, bleeding heart, ligularia, columbine, jack-in-the-pulpit, ferns, woodland phlox, lungwort, rodgersia, meadow rue, foam flower, toad lily, trillium, etc.
  3. Dappled Shade: Dappled Shade is a when the light you receive is filtered from either a light canopy of trees, a pergola, etc.  It is not hot direct sun but a filtered light on and off throughout the day.  Dappled shade allows you to grow a wide variety of both shade and sun plants.
  4. Light Shade: Usually this is an open area that may be shaded by tree limbs, walls, or other structures.  Throughout the day it will receive direct sunlight on and off.  Some shade plants, such as some hostas may burn in this area if you don't keep it watered well.  It will really depend on the variety of hosta, ones with white in them will probably not do well in this kind of shade as the white areas will melt out.  Plants such as daylilies, lilies, coral bells, and most sun perennials will grow in this kind of light.
  5. Medium Shade: This area receives about 2 to 6 hours of direct sun a day.  It's the true Partial Shade.  Shade plants will do well in this area if the sun is morning sun and not hot afternoon sun.  Sun plants will also grow well in these conditions, especially if the area receives afternoon sun.
  6. Deep Shade: This area receives no direct sun at all and very little to no filtered light.  No plant will really thrive in this type of shade, but there are plants that will tolerate it.  Hostas will grow in deep shade provided they receive water and a little filtered light.  Blue colored hostas would keep their great blue color in this type of shade.  Other plants for deep shade are: ferns, dead nettle, ajuga, bleeding heart, astilbe (as long as watered well), columbine, lutea, lungwort, hellebores, vinca, bergenia, etc.

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