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The 8 Best Perennials for Deep Shade

The 8 Best Perennials for Deep Shade

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Synopsis: Deep shade is often trying for gardeners. Here are a few plants that thrive in the dark.

The 8 Best Perennials for Deep Shade

Creating an interesting and healthy garden in deep or full shade can be a real challenge. Often the low light means too much moisture as well, and the telltale moss growth that says, "Acid soil - Warning!"

None of these plants are magic (or are they?), but as far as the light factor is concerned, they are stars. All grow well in deep shade, with reasonable fertility, drainage and water.

There are many factors a gardener must use when deciding if a given plant will work in a given space, and light is but one of them. Look to this as a list of shade loving plants - actually full or deep shade - and put on your gardener hat to decide what is best for you.

So, what do we mean by "full shade"? This is shade all or almost all of the day. Also called "deep shade", no shadows are cast in this degree of light. You will find this under dense trees or on the North side of a structure.

So here are my 8 Best Perennials for Full Shade:

8. Bergenia 'Solar Flare'

Variegated plants, especially those with lots of yellow or white are generally good in the shade. This fine Pig Squeak does well in dim areas, and provides a bright spot in dark corners

7. Dicentra 'Gold Heart'

We've been growing this sturdy perennial for a number of years now, and it has proved itself over and over. It flowers for us in low light, and the golden foliage glows. For those who care about such things, this plant is not regarded as Lamprocaptos spectablis 'Gold Heart'.

6. Dicentra 'King of Hearts'

Very different from 'Gold Heart', this Dicentra has bluish leaves. The flowering period is very long - till September for s here on the border of Zones 8 and 9.

5. Doronicum orientale 'Magnificum'

Yellow daisies, suitable for cutting, in full shade. And one of the earliest perennials to bloom in our garden, coming in the middle of the Helleborus bloom. Easy to grow in good soil, this plant deserves more attention than it gets.

4. A tie - Pulmonaria 'Raspberry Splash' and Pulmonaria 'Trevi Fountain'.

I'll be the first one to admit, we are Lungwort novices. We've grown a few different clones for a few years, but have never had the time to trial a goodly number of the fine varieties available.

These two are basic Lungworts, one red flowered and one blue. They never get powdery mildew, flower for a long season and never complain if deeply shaded. We sell them like crazy when they are in bloom.

Someday we may have better, but for now these two are at very least very good.

3. Heucherella 'Tapestry'

Stronger growing than most Tiarella, with spectacular leaves and great Coral Bell type flowers, this is our top Heucherella. Blooms its head off in deep shade.

2. Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold'

Japanese Forest Grass is a slam dunk for the shade. Great in containers, good in even dark shade, the bright leaves of this cultivar will light up your shady garden.

1. Brunnera macrophylla 'Emerald Mist'

Our very favorite of the newer Brunnera cultivars. Wide leaves that glow in the shade. 'Jack Frost' was our top pick, but we like this plant better. It is a bit larger, has more flowers and has a unique and interesting leaf pattern.

As always, I would love to get your opinions and observations. What is your favorite perennial for full shade?

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