Help with changing light conditions!

Tega Cay, SC(Zone 8a)

We have a covered pergola that sits about 6 feet from the north side of our house. The previous owners of our house had installed 3 beautiful rebar trellises along the house, but had not planted anything on or in front of them (between the house & the pergola). The small strip of land looked kind of bare, and so I set out to install a perennial garden this spring.

I monitored light conditions for a while & came to the conclusion that this was a shady spot. It was not deep shade, but it definitely didn't get any direct sun. So I planted a shade garden with hostas, astilbe, beacon silver lanium, primrose, fern, and widow's tears. I planted in late april, and all plants were doing well through the spring.

Then came summer, and suddenly my shady spot is in full sun. Yes, I apparently made a rookie mistake & didn't take the seasonal path of the sun into consideration when I planted the garden. Because it's just a narrow "window" for the sun to get in, I suspect it'll be full sun for about a month or so. Then partial sun, partial shade, and back to full shade again in the fall.

Some of the hostas are looking rather fried (although some seem to be doing just fine!). None of the other plants look like they are suffering too badly -- but many have not grown in a month or more.

So, this leaves me with three questions...

1 - Will my shade loving plants tolerate a couple of months of sun in the dead of summer? I know I may have to take a wait & see approach for this answer, but I'd love any thoughts from the more experienced gardeners out there.

2 - If I do have to replace some of them, how do I go about choosing plants that will thrive in these conditions? Any plant recommendations are welcome!

3 - What the heck do I plant on these trellises? I would love to see some green on them. I don't care if the vines flower or not. I am really scared of vines that take over -- I don't want to ruin my foundation or have rogue vines popping up in other parts of the yard.

Any advice is appreciated!

(I attempted to post this yesterday from my mac, but it did not work. I'm now trying from a PC, apologies if this ends up posting twice!)

Tega Cay, SC(Zone 8a)

Realized I forgot the photos!

Thumbnail by jlrhodes Thumbnail by jlrhodes
Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Can you clarify what you mean by "full sun"? Given the narrowness of that area and how shady it is the rest of the year I don't know how it could really be full sun (typically defined as 6+ hrs of direct sun per day). I suspect what may be happening is that it now receives some period of direct sun each day when during other times of year it gets no direct sun at all? It would help to know how many hours the sun is directly on that area, as well as whether the direct sun is in the morning or afternoon. A few hours of sun in the morning isn't going to be nearly as stressful as the same number of hours of afternoon sun.

I wouldn't worry about things not growing--first of all things that you just planted in April haven't had time to get fully established yet, so they're probably still working on root development. There's a saying about perennials "first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap". Some don't take the full 3 yrs to get to leaping, but the principle is that they won't grow fast at first. Secondly, if your weather has been hot, most plants won't actively grow until the weather cools off a bit even if they are fully established. The plants that look a bit fried could be due to getting too much sun, but often the heat of summer will frizzle plants a bit too, especially ones that were planted that year and didn't have time to get completely established before summer hit them.

Tega Cay, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks ecrane. This is very helpful -- and I hope that my plants are just sleeping right now! It has been incredibly hot here lately, so there is that too.

The bed lies East-West, and so the sun rises & sets in line with it right now. (It's kind of like Manhattanhenge in my own backyard!) It's probably 9 am when the sun peeks over my neighbors house & onto the bed. Then by mid-afternoon or so there are shadows cast on it again. But because it's such a narrow space, I can't imagine the sun will align like this for too much longer.

I just hope I don't have to start from scratch next year.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I think the best thing to do for now since you've already got things planted there is to wait and see how things look by the end of summer. If you find some things died or just look really ratty then you know those probably ought to be replaced with something a little more sun-tolerant, but you may find that some of the plants look fairly OK and then you can keep those. That's a tricky situation though because if you plant things that like full sun they may get leggy & not bloom well if they don't get enough sun during most of the year, but things that really want shade could fry. So your best bet is probably to look for things that prefer part sun, those ought to do OK. Alternatively, if you really want your shade garden and you find too many of your plants look fried by the end of the summer, you could consider closing off the end where the sun comes in, either by putting in a gate, or a trellis with some vines, or a narrow shade tree, or something along those lines.

Tega Cay, SC(Zone 8a)

A tree is an excellent idea! Thanks again.

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