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Great Shade Plants

Solomon's Seal - Polygonatum spp.

  • Arching stems with alternating leaves provide architectural appeal

  • Bell-shaped, white flowers in late spring to early summer have an intoxicating fragrance

  • Plants will spread to form a nice clump

  • Easy to grow and totally hardy

  • 'Dragon Scale' - leaves are uniquely pleated down the centre, giving them a reptilian appearance; up to 2 feet tall

  • 'Grace Barker' - unusual crinkled and wavy leaves are splashed with creamy white; up to 2 feet tall

  • P. hookeri - rare and unusual miniature species with pink flowers; only grows 4" tall

  • P. humile 'Variegatum' - dwarf variegated type; leaves are striped creamy white and the plant only grows 6-8" tall

  • 'Weihenstephen' - giant variety with plain foliage; up to 3.5 feet tall

  • 'White Tiger' - rare Japanese cultivar with irregularly white-splashed foliage; up to 2 feet tall



  • This shade staple will always be a favorite

  • Countless selections with varying leaf colors and shapes

  • Add much-needed color and texture to the shade garden

  • Unparalleled in ease of growth and hardiness

  • Many will tolerate some sun, especially yellow cultivars

  • 'Blue Mouse Ears' - miniature size; blue foliage

  • 'Dancing Queen' - large size; bright yellow ribbed foliage with wavy edges

  • 'Fire Island' - medium size; bright yellow foliage with contrasting red petioles

  • 'Frosted Mouse Ears' - miniature size; deep blue-green foliage with wide white margin

  • 'Guardian Angel' - large size; frosty blue-green foliage with wide blue margin

  • 'HarkAway's Mini Gold' - miniature size; bright chartreuse-yellow foliage

  • 'Lakeside Cupcake' - small size; bright yellow-green foliage with wide blue-green margin

  • 'Lemontini' - small size; bright yellow, glossy foliage

  • 'Spartacus' - large size; frosty green, ribbed foliage with a pale yellow margin and wavy edges

  • 'Volcano Island' - medium size; bright yellow foliage with wide green margin and contrasting red petioles


Bleeding Heart - Dicentra spp.

  • Two main types: old-fashioned and fernleaf

  • Both are among the most charming and beautiful perennials

  • Heart-shaped flowers appear in late spring to midsummer

  • Old-fashioned types are large, bushy plants to 3 feet tall, with divided leaves and long sprays of flowers

  • Fernleaf types are smaller plants with clumps of ferny foliage and clusters of blooms held on short stems, up to 1 foot tall

  • They like a spot that is cool and sheltered from wind, in soil that is moist and well-drained but not too rich

  • They do not like being disturbed often

  • D. spectabilis - old-fashioned bleeding heart; pink and white flowers

  • D. spectabilis 'Alba' - the pure white form of old-fashioned bleeding heart

  • D. spectabilis 'Valentine' - newer selection of old-fashioned bleeding heart with red-tinged foliage and red and white flowers

  • D. spectabilis 'Gold Heart' - the showiest form of old-fashioned bleeding heart, with bright chartreuse-yellow foliage and contrasting red stems; pink and white flowers

  • D. 'Burning Hearts' - a fernleaf cultivar with frosty-blue, ferny foliage and contrasting deep red flowers

  • D. 'King of Hearts' - fernleaf cultivar with blue-green foliage and deep carmine-pink flowers

  • D. 'Ivory Hearts' - fernleaf cultivar with blue-green foliage and white flowers


Bugbane - Actaea spp.

  • Some of the largest and most stately shade plants

  • Excellent for dramatic backdrops and contrast

  • White flowers appear in mid to late summer

  • Prefer moist and well-drained soil, and can tolerate a bit of sun

  • 'Hillside Black Beauty' - deeply divided, deep purple-black foliage with spikes of contrasting pink-tinged white flowers; the tallest and blackest cultivar (up to 5 feet)

  • 'Black Negligee' - similar to 'Hillside Black Beauty' but shorter growing (to 4 feet); color not as intense

  • 'Misty Blue' - Bright frosty-blue, divided foliage; white flowers; white berries appear later on contrasting stems; excellent contrast with darker foliage like 'Hillside Black Beauty' or Heuchera 'Obsidian', and with yellow foliage like Hosta 'Fire Island' and Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade'; up to 3 feet tall

Coralbells - Heuchera spp.

  • Smaller plants for the front of the bed

  • Some of the best foliage color to be seen on any perennial

  • Plants tend to push their crowns out of the ground over time; every few years, lift and replant at the proper depth

  • Most produce a tidy clump of foliage under a foot tall; flower stems appearing in summer can rise another foot or so above the foliage

  • Flowers are usually white and not particularly showy, but in some varieties they can be bright pink or even brick red

  • 'Brandon Pink' - old-fashioned variety has plain green scalloped foliage and showy pink flowers

  • 'Crimson Curls' - deep burgundy-purple matte foliage with a wavy edge

  • 'Georgia Plum' - stunning silvery-purple foliage with deep purple veins

  • 'Hercules' - variegated white and green foliage with brick-red flowers

  • 'Lime Marmalade' - electric lime-yellow foliage

  • 'Marmalade' - yellowish brown foliage with pink undersides

  • 'Obsidian' - perhaps the best dark variety; large, glossy, deep purple-black foliage

  • 'Root Beer' - foliage literally has the color of root beer; outstanding


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