When it comes to flowering plants, many gardeners share
Noel Burdette passion for plants that bring a celebration
of colour to a garden. This article complements the recent
article about flowering plants for shady gardens (Issue 32)
and focuses on the contribution foliage can provide.
Living and gardening in the subtropics or tropics has granted us with an immeasurable plethora of choices when it comes to plant species, yet some gardeners seem at a loss to choose suitable plants to grow in shaded gardens.
To be perfectly honest, for shaded areas, there is a greater choice to be had from foliage plants than from high performance flowering plants. Many, if not all of the plants listed in this article will, at some stage produce attractive or even fragrant flowers, yet the main focus on their cultivation is their ability to hold our interest and provide texture, colour and form and most importantly a greater plant biodiversity.
Before choosing any plant for semi-shaded or fully shaded areas, take a close look at the situation.
The biggest issue when choosing plants for these shaded corners is the quality of the shade itself. Is shade provided by a building, a garden structure or a large tree? Does the shade source impact on the soil pH, fertility, moisture levels or compaction?
Garden structures such as arbours and gazebos often have established plants around or over them which can cast heavy shade and extensive root systems that provide competition to new plantings. Competitive root systems are also likely to occur adjacent to established trees. In both cases, the soil will require amendment in the form of additional fertiliser and building up the soil using organic matter prior to planting.
Species discussed are:
- Caladium (Caladium cultivars)
- Pewter Bush (Strobilanthes gossypina
– unresolved botanical name)
- Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyeriana
– also an unresolved botanical name)
- Chocolate Plant (Pseuderanthemum alatum)
- Bird Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus syn. A. australasicum)
- Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans syn. D. deremensis)
- Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema cultivars)