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Search Results for: Shade-tolerant plants | Search the catalog for: Shade-tolerant plants

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Shade-tolerant plants, Epimedium

Can you recommend some Epimedium species and tell me what kind of conditions they prefer?


The resources I consulted say that most Epimedium species prefer part shade, and most are evergreen. Some will tolerate a partly sunny site as long as the soil does not dry out.

Epimedium perralderianum has bronze leaves that turn green and last throughout the year. It blooms in March/April. Epimedium x rubrum prefers shade, so if your site is partly sunny, this might not be the ideal choice.

Collectors Nursery in Battleground, WA, also carries several varieties.

One gardening website, Paghat's Garden, has especially good information. The site developer recommends in particular the following varieties:
Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum', or Yellow Epimedium - for its evergreen foliage
Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee' - for quite striking lavender flowers and evergreen foliage

Richie Steffen, curator of the Elisabeth C. Miller Garden, is the author of "Epimediums" Queens of the Woodland" published in Pacific Horticulture, April 2008.

A recent book, The Plant Lover's Guide to Epimediums by Sally Gregson, has excellent illustrations as well as information.

Date 2018-04-21
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Shrubs, Berberis, Skimmia, Leucothoe, Fatsia, Euonymus, Elaeagnus, Shade-tolerant plants, Osmanthus, Aucuba, Viburnum, Prunus, Camellia, Buxus

Can you suggest some shade shrubs/low trees that could be used in the bottom quarter of a huge, years-old pile of yardwaste and branches that is now a 20 foot cliff? I have started with some vinca minor in the lower part but could use some ideas of some things to plant that might get 15 feet tall, evergreen, and grow in woods/shade or sun through trees.


The closest list I could find to meet your needs is one of evergreen shrubs that will grow in shade:

Japanese aucuba - Aucuba japonica vars.
common boxwood - Buxus sempervirens
camellia - Camellia sp.
gilt edge silverberry - Elaeagnus x ebbingei 'Gilt Edge'
Euonymus - Euonymus fortunei radicans
Japanese aralia - Fatsia japonica
drooping Leucothoe - Leucothoe fontanesiana
Oregon grape - Mahonia aquifolium
Burmese mahonia - Mahonia lomariifolia
longleaf mahonia - Mahonia nervosa
holly leaf osmanthus - Osmanthus heterophyllus vars.
English laurel - Prunus laurocerasus 'Mount Vernon'
Japanese skimmia - Skimmia japonica
evergreen huckleberry - Vaccinium ovatum
nannyberry - Viburnum lentago

Source: The Pacific Northwest Gardener's Book of Lists, by R. & J. McNeilan, 1997, p. 46-47

Date 2017-05-25
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Shade gardening, Shade-tolerant plants

Which flowers can be planted in the shade?


The University of Minnesota Extension Service article entitled, "Gardening in the Shade" provides lists of annuals, perennials and herbs that do well in the shade.

Gardening with Ed Hume offers advice about growing plants in shady areas under tall trees.

For resources specific to the Pacific Northwest, try the list of shade perennials from Paghat's Garden, Great Plant Picks, King County's searchable Native Plant Guide, and lists of native plants for mostly to fully shady sites Washington Native Plant Society. There are also numerous books available in the Miller Library. Here is a booklist.

Date 2017-04-27
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Soils, Aegopodium, Convallaria, Oxalis oregana, Lobularia, Pachysandra, Galium, Lamium galeobdolon, Sheet mulching, Euonymus, Shade-tolerant plants, Polystichum munitum, Native plants--Washington, Fragaria, Ground cover plants, Geranium

What is a good way to deal with a gravelly area with a lot of shade? Are there good groundcovers that would be low maintenance? Can the plants grow right in the gravel, or do I need to do something to the soil?


If it's pure gravel, you can just make a border (with rocks and/or wood, preferably non-treated) and fill it with 9-12" of soil. (No need to remove the gravel.) You buy soil by the cubic yard, so to figure out how much, multiply the length (feet) x width (feet) x depth (.75 or 1), then divide by 27 to get the number of yards. One yard of soil is 3' x 3' x 3', or 27 cubic feet. My guess is that you need less than a yard, but it settles.

You can save money by buying the soil in bulk. Otherwise, you have to buy it by the bag, and they might come in cubic feet. If there is only some gravel, you may be able to get by with the soil/gravel mix that you have. See how much hardpan there is by digging around a little.

If you have lots of weeds in the gravel, cover the whole area with large sheets of cardboard or multiple layers of newspaper (about 10 sheets), overlapped to prevent light from getting through. Then put down a border and fill the area with soil. Smothering weeds depends upon complete darkness more than anything. Therefore, overlapping biodegradable stuff and deep soil is key.

Once you've done that, you can plant right away. Here are some plant suggestions. I've included links to pictures, but you can always find more on Google images or the Missouri Botanical Garden's PlantFinder.

  1. Lobularia maritima, known as sweet alyssum: You can plant seeds of this and it will come up this year. It's best to mix it with something else, since it dies down in winter (but self-seeds vigorously and will return). The white seeds the fastest (year to year), but it's nice to mix with purple. Both varieties smell good and attract beneficial insects.

  2. Fragaria x ananassa 'Pink Panda': A strawberry-potentilla hybrid that grows fast and spreads easily, is good weed suppresser, and blooms twice a year with pink flowers. This is an excellent groundcover, will probably be evergreen.

  3. Pachysandra: This plant is evergreen, and though it is not as fast growing as some groundcovers, it does spread.

  4. Hardy Geranium spp.: Geranium x oxonianum 'Claridge Druce' is a variety that spreads well. Another good variety is Geranium endressii 'Wargrave's Pink'; in particular, it seeds itself well. Geranium macrorrhizum has many cultivars, a pleasant scent, and self-seeds readily.

  5. Galium odoratum: Also called sweet woodruff, this plant is prettily scented, probably evergreen here, and spreads fairly rapidly. It produces white flowers in early spring, and it would be particularly good to mix with something taller, like Geranium species.

  6. Oxalis oregana: This native plant looks like a shamrock, and though it is slow to establish, once it has it's very tough and spreads. If you don't get the native Oxalis oregana be careful, as the other species are very aggressive.

  7. Euonymus spp.: These woody groundcover plants are evergreen, and come in lots of varieties like E. fortunei 'Emerald 'n'Gold' and 'Emerald Gaiety'. Do be sure to get a groundcover and not a shrub version of the plant. 'Emerald and Gold' is the most robust choice.

  8. Convallaria majalis: Also known as lily of the valley, this is a vigorous (aggressive!) groundcover.

  9. Maianthemum dilatatum: Called false lily of the valley, this native plant is a good choice for shade groundcover.

  10. Polystichum munitum: The native swordfern (or another fern species) might work. P. munitum is basically evergreen, though you might need to cut out some dead fronds in late winter, and makes a good mix with something else. Other deciduous ferns are higher maintenance.

There are also a couple of plants to avoid!

  1. DON'T plant Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum': Commonly called bishop's weed, and frequently used as a groundcover, this plant is very invasive.

  2. DON'T plant Lamium galeobdolon (formerly known as Lamiastrum), either: Yellow archangel is very invasive in Pacific Northwest forests.

Date 2017-05-25
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Shade-tolerant plants, Rhododendrons--Varieties

Do you have a recommendation for a particularly shade tolerant rhodie? I have dappled shade, but also some areas of fairly deep shade. I'm in the Portland, OR area.


Generally speaking, rhododendrons are tolerant of shade, but need some light if they are to produce flowers. According to Rhododendrons in America by Ted Van Veen (Binford & Mort, 1969), "the larger the leaf, the more shade required ... In the Pacific Northwest ... most varieties look their best if they have about one-third shade when the sun is warm."

Dappled shade should be fine for most rhododendrons, but deep shade might mean that you end up with a non-flowering shrub. Look for large-leaved species or hybrids. These are sometimes referred to as elepidotes (generally, this term refers to hybrids with large leaves and flowers that grow in relatively large clusters).

Below are just a few examples of the hundreds of species and hybrids available. (Images and information from Oregon State University are included)
R. catawbiense
R. macrophyllum
Marjatta hybrids

Here is a list of Proven Performers for Oregon, from the American Rhododendron Society:
(These are the recommended large-leaved cultivars from the Portland Chapter:)

  • 'Blue Peter'
  • 'Cynthia'
  • 'Lem's Cameo'
  • 'Mardi Gras'
  • 'Mrs Furnival'
  • 'Odee Wright'
  • 'Taurus'
  • 'The Hon. Jean Marie de Montague'
  • 'Unique'

Date 2017-08-24
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Lindera, Shade-tolerant plants, Epimedium, Carex, Shade gardening, Cyclamen

If you think a shady garden is a liability there is a good book that will change your mind. Gardening in the Shade (Horticulture Books, 2004) was compiled from articles that originally appeared in Horticulture Magazine. The book is divided into four sections: techniques, general design, plant for shade and step by step projects. Some of the plants suggested are Epimedium, sedge, Cyclamen and Japanese Spicebush (Lindera obtusiloba). Any one with cedar trees in their garden will want to read the essay by a local Northwest writer on coping with dry shade. Other resources for shade gardening include the classic book, The Complete Shade Gardener by George Schenk (Timber Press, 1984) and the web page created by University of Missouri Extension.

Date: 2006-10-23
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May 31 2018 13:14:08