Friday, June 6, 2014

Planting Colorful Flowers in Shade Gardens

Every year I receive more and more questions regarding building colorful baskets and potted gardens that pop with color.  So let's talk a few minutes about some colorful annual flowers that you can grow in the shade.  Remember annual means it will only last one season, one-timers.  I know I talked about adding color to shade last year but let's do a little refresher!.

When I was a much younger gardener I would offer the usual shade plants without much regard to their possibilities.  The choices were begonias, fuchsias and impatiens.   Eww, those are old lady plants.  Am I right!  We all think of our grandmas when those plants come to mind.  I've got to be honest with ya, that is also a very common knee jerk reaction when showing people their options for shade. 

The game changers here are how you can can mix them like a delicious recipe to come up with a completely new melt-in-your-mouth cookie!  This is a flaming orange begonia.  They become bushy and spark bright mandarin colored flowers that sway in the breeze.  When building your recipe you want thrillers, fillers and spillers.  This is definitely a thriller.   

 Lobularia is often mistaken for sweet alyssum but works really well in shadier beds, baskets and pots.  It will not reseed itself and serves as a filler whether it is planted in the ground or in a pot.  This is an annual, one-timer, so it will not come back next year but you will love it through the summer.

Petunias are often full sun but there are a ton of partial shade options out there.  I really love when shiny begonias are paired with a fuzzy petunia and sparkly lobularia. 

Impatiens can change up the texture adding an almost tropical feel.  They can be planted in masses for overall gorgeous coverage.  

For my wedding we planted an entire trough with just impatiens.  Ya, it was like that.  

Coleus just screams the 70's.  I don't even know why I think that because it seems completely crazy but it feels like the same category of shag carpet and those yarn wall hangings.  I joke now but those yarn wall hangings are all over the blog world and if designlovefest is doing it, then you know it's legit.

  So just like weird wall yarn art, coleus too has it's place in the hip and cool section.  The velvety texture of the leaves and option of leaf size offers so much flexibility.  Plus they come in a ton of different color combos, pink and green, red and green, chartreuse, brown and copper.

I really, really love lobelia and I actually prefer it in shadier conditions because it can be sensitive to really intense sun if it doesn't have enough water.  It always perks back up but I hate to see droopy lobelia.  

The last decade has really been dominated by bacopa as a winning choice as a spiller in baskets due to its ability to cascade with a ton of non-stop coverage and cutesy little white flowers.  This bacopa is Gold 'n Pearls with a lower mounding habit and chartreuse leaves.  It is the super model's spotlight that helping all other colors to stand out especially when in the dark corners of your garden. 

Purple heart looks a little weird when you first glance at it.  Though it spatially works like how you would add decorative grasses to a basket or pot.  This ones really hard to categorize due to it's transformer like versatility because it kind of spills over, fills in a ton of space and can be a complete thriller when spotlighted.  One second it is a semi-truck and the next thing you know it is a walking robot!

I find nemesia's Opal Innocence really, really girly.  It is light in color and delicate looking.  Which is refreshing when set against the usual waxy, green and primary colors that are the predominant choice for shade plants. 

My last offering is the calibrachoa.  Alpaca is to llama what calibrachoa is to petunia.  The mini, cuter and more cuddly version.  My summer speed demon lifestyle loves the calibrachoa because it is self cleaning.  As in the blooms just wither up and then blow away.  You don't have to clean the blooms like the petunia.  Hallelujah, no sticky arms!

Now go out there and light up those dark, lackluster areas of your yard, patios and porches.



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