what kind of plants will grow in dry shade?

Fate, TX(Zone 8a)

this area gets filtered thru-the-leaves sun. so what kind of plants could handle that once established? thanks.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Here is a link from Miller Gardens that has several options listed.


Fate, TX(Zone 8a)

thanks pepper.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Check this out.


pepper - nice list. Bookmarked for future reference.
killd... - Liking the foliage on that one. Reminds me a bit of Helleborus foetidus. Does it keep that frosty appearance most of the time?

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

I don't know. I haven't grown it yet. But I plan to soon.

I've noticed my hostas are dwindling in size in dry shade. Of course, the root competition from the maple and oaks is probably proving to be too fierce for anything else to grow. Even my invincible Epimediums in that congested bed are smaller than their siblings in other beds. Making a raised bed would only work for so long until the tree roots invaded the lovely dirt.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

I am trying raised beds with almost all my plantings now. I am wondering how long it will be before the plants start declining. If they do. I think plants will decline after a while anywhere if they aren't fed won't they?

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

What a great list! Thank you, Pepper. It's just what I was looking for, too!

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

Barb, I find dry shade the toughest to deal with. I've got some big water Maples that shade large areas and usurp practically every drop of moisture, particularly frustrating since they're highly visible areas. I'm finding hardy geraniums tolerate those areas pretty well. Toad Lilies, Helebores, and a couple of shade tolerant Penstemons (P.smallii, P.hirsutus) have performed fairly well too. Where there's filtered sun I've planted some Lilies, and they're performing surprisingly well too.

In one particularly difficult spot around my deck, I've finally just started using lots of containers sitting in the beds. Since its shady, its a good place for the house plants during summer, and I've potted impatiens to dot the bed with for color. I do have some Hostas, ferns, Epimediums, and hardy Geraniums planted in there, and the daily watering of the containers provides them enough moisture to grow reasonably well. I have a couple of cement planters there, and when I was replacing the potting soil this spring I noticed that the tree roots had grown up through the single hole in the bottom to usurp the moisture and nutrients in there as well! I've been about ready to pour concrete over the whole area!

I really like the idea of setting containers into my side garden towards the end of the summer to fill in those areas that get a little bare after everything is done blooming. I did add 3 tall containers to my "problem" bed in the front yard this year since I couldn't carve enough root space anymore for impatiens. So far, they're looking pretty good.
killd - I do spread some all purpose fertilizer over that problem bed in the spring but maybe it's just not the right application for that space. Since it's under the trees, it doesn't get a lot of direct rainfall to disperse the fertilizer. Thanks for mentioning that - got me to thinking.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Cindy I was thinking more along the lines of a feeding mulch-some organic matter. I use rotted manure in some places and pine needles everywhere else. The only other fertilizer I use is cottonseed meal.
I'll see how it goes.
Another thing that helps I think is growing woodland plants. They should be adapted to grow around trees and in dry shade. They do out in the woods.

Yeah, I really need to do that as well. The area was dug up about 5 or 6 years ago and I added some amendments but the tree roots have moved into all of that good stuff. Will probably go hunting for some "super" compost since my compost pile isn't ready yet (it yields leaf mold rather than real compost).

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

I would think leaf mould would be an excellent top dressing.

Definitely would be. I did use up several years' worth last year amending soil in other areas. I'll really need to check the progress on this years pile since I did add a lot of "green" stuff to the pile so far this year. I do have to psyche myself into doing battle with the mosquitoes though since the compost bin is way at the back of the lot near the woods and wetlands. Nothing worse than Off-flavored sweat though. Ugh.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Hmmm....I find the scent of Off pretty pleasant. Reminds me of Plum grannies--pocket melons.

Did have to drench myself in Off yesterday just to work in the back yard. Ugh. After storms tonight, I'll have to be even more into Eau du Off.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Skeeters not that bad here this year. Maybe the bats are working harder.

killd - I did notice a few skeeters down in Columbia over the 4th. I was a little surprised because usually there aren't too many. Not as many ticks though. I came home from TN unscathed by even one little seed tick.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

We had ticks galore in the spring. Haven't seen many in a while now.

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)


Fate, TX(Zone 8a)

really....ajuga? i never even thought of ajuga i guess because i was thinking it needed more moisture. thanks.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

I forgot about ivies. I really like them. Not the regular invasive species. But the slower-growing cultivars. Here's one of mine.

Thumbnail by killdawabbit

Do you think the variegated ivies are slower growers, less invasive? Or should I say less aggressive?

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

So far, I believe they are. They are definitely less aggressive. But that could be too aggressive for some people. I've been using them about 3 yrs. So maybe don't take my word for it. I've got lots of them.
Here's another pic. It's next to the hosta. Very dry shade.

Thumbnail by killdawabbit
Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Another pic. You can see it has started climbing the white oak.

Thumbnail by killdawabbit

I do have an ivy called 'Buttercup' - yellow margins. It's been struggling in the same spot for over 10 years as it was originally part of a "yellow" bed. Admittedly, it probably longs for a better spot to grow well. I remember that the tag said that it was only hardy to zone 6 though.

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

last year we had a plague of fleas. It was horrible, dogs biting themselves raw. We tried the stuff from the vet that you apply across the back from shoulder blade, across back of the neck and on to the other shoulder blade. It helped the upper body, but like flea colors, not the lower body. I used flea power but was hoping for something that he could not get to chew or bite that was poisonous. He got a lot of flea shampooing as all the fleas really made him stink, not just ordinary doggy smell either.
This year the fleas are pretty mild. I know one that, Hart's and Sargeant's products, especially flea collars are worth the packaging.

Grapevine, TX(Zone 8a)

I planted a mapleleaf viburnum last fall. It is supposed to take dry shade, but I haven't had it long enough to comment on it:


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