There is often some shade in landscape areas that can prove to be an obstacle for the optimal growth of sun-loving plants. The problem is best handled by choosing from the large number of plants, shrubs and trees that thrive in the shade. Common areas of shade in landscape could be on the north side of homes and under the larger shade trees such as maples and beeches.
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Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) is a fern species with fan-shaped fronds on wiry, dark stems. A native of well-drained, moist woods, the evergreen maidenhair fern thrives in fertile soil and full to partial shade. It reaches a mature height of 12 to 18 inches. Under optimal conditions, the fern develops into a large, airy clump. Maidenhair fern has no significant disease or pest problems. Recommended planting time is early fall or early spring. The fern is not partial to dry or poorly fertile soils. Apply mulch to retain moisture and water regularly until the plant gets established.
Hostas (Hosta) are among the best evergreen plants for shade gardens. Hostas are easy to grow and adapt well to a wide range of soil conditions. They are primarily grown for their lush foliage, which ranges 2 to 36 inches in height. Hostas come in a variety of leaf colours from dark green and light green to variegated patterns. Hostas are long-lived plants and continually multiply as they grow. Hostas are best chosen according to the size of the garden. Recommended large varieties include black hills and blue angel, the medium-size hostas include regal splendour, and sum and substance, and the smaller hostas include gold edge and ginko craig. Plant in areas with light to full shade and moist soil.
Titoki (Alectryon excelsus) is a moderately fast-growing evergreen that reaches a mature height of 30 to 60 feet and thrives in shade. The younger trees are upright and open branched, and the crown gets rounded with age. The 10-inch-long leaves are glossy and medium green and divided into oblong leaflets. Titoki is considered one of the best trees for shady areas and looks attractive either as a single tree or when planted in groups. The trees have black orbicular seeds that resemble eyes. Titoki is a native of New Zealand and is also called the New Zealand oak. The tree grows in a variety of soils and can easily be propagated from seed.
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- Iowa State University Extension: Trees and Shrubs Adapted to Partial Shade
- "The Garden Primer"; Barbara Damrosch; 2003
- "Michigan Gardener's Guide"; Timothy Boland, Marty Hair, Laura Coit; 2002
- "Taylor's Guide to Growing North America's Favorite Plants"; Barbara Ellis; 2000
- "The Complete Shade Gardener"; George Schenk; 2002