Category Archives: shade plant

Vinca: Excellent ground cover

vincaVinca, or myrtle, is a sub-shrub and makes excellent ground cover in shady spots. It spreads quickly and can be invasive, so you’ll need to keep it in check.

Vinca does have medicinal uses for several types of cancers.  It has also been used to treat diabetes, coughs and sore throats.

The plant is associated with sweet memories though this is clearly  not connected with its medicinal uses.

How to Grow

  • Pick a shady spot in your garden.
  • Dig a hole slightly larger than the roots.
  • Mix in a good fertilizer.
  • Place the plant in the hole and cover with soil.
  • Water.

Vinca is drought tolerant and makes an excellent border plant. We have purple vinca  in our garden, but it does come in a variety of colors, including pink and white.

Happy Gardening!




Forget-me-nots: an herb for a shady spot

forgetmenotForget-me-nots. or mouse ears,  are  perennial herbs that bloom in the spring.  They are excellent ground cover and make good border plants as well.

In the language of flowers, forget-me-nots do actually mean forget me not. It also represents hope, true love, remembrance, and memories.

Like most herbs, forget-me-nots have some medicinal uses, and the entire plant is used to make medicines for nosebleeds and lung complaints. I have never used it in these ways, and I would consult a physician before trying it.

How to Plant

  • Pick a shady spot in your garden at the end of summer.
  • Prepare the soil by adding in  a fertilizer, such as bone meal.
  • Scatter the seeds.
  • Water.

The seeds will settle in, and you will have this charming plant in the spring. Forget-me-nots are a bit wild and will reseed themselves with no help from you–but they may reseed anywhere in your shady garden. If you don’t like where they pop up the following year, simply move them to where you would like them to be.

Forget-me-nots are an easy plant to grow if you are just beginning and are not sure what to plant in a shady area. Best of all, deer don’t care for them! Forget-me-nots are ideal around walkways or edges of gardens.

Happy gardening!


The Primrose

myprimrosesThe primrose is one of the earliest blooming spring perennials–some even bloom in late winter.  Most primroses display greenery close to the ground and clusters of flowers. They do not grow very tall, but they do provide great ground cover and spots of color in the spring garden.

During the spring, primroses like full sun, but as the spring turns to summer, they prefer partial shade.

Primroses spread quickly, and the easiest way to acquire more is to divide and replant. They are available in nurseries, but I would let people know you are looking for some. Gardeners love to share when they start dividing these plants. Let’s face it: no one likes to throw plants away!

Primroses grow well with several other plants, including astilbes, forget-me-nots, ferns, and hostas.

The primrose offers several bonuses for gardeners:

  • they are easy to grow.
  • they offer a much needed  and longed for spot of color in the garden after a long winter.
  • they are not sought out by deer–deer just don’t like them!

Plant primroses and enjoy early spring color for years to come!


forsythiaNothing says spring quite like the explosion of bright yellow forsythia blooms.

Forsythia, or golden bells,  is a hardy shrub of the olive family and does well in  zone 5.  It grows quickly, and from one bush, I have been able to take new shoots and replant them throughout the backyard. Forsythia does require some pruning after the blooming period since the plant blooms on old wood. If you prefer a more controlled, sculptured look, then even more pruning will be necessary. I prefer to leave mine wild.

The plant prefers full sun, and in my yard, it gets it during the spring. During the summer, my plantings do not receive quite as much sun due to all of the oak trees around the area, but they still do well.

Forsythia blooms in early spring, and then provides a great deal of privacy–so these are great plantings along property borders or anywhere you want a little extra privacy–they are often referred to as a living wall.

Forsythia is an easy plant to force blooming in the house if you just can’t wait for spring to arrive outside.

The Bleeding Heart

bleedingheartThe Bleeding Heart is a perennial and a great pick for shady areas! It blooms during the spring with delicate heart-shaped flowers and provides wonderful green foliage the remainder of the growing season.

It thrives in most shady or wooded areas and grows well with ferns and other types of shade loving plants.  Best of all, deer don’t care for it! This plant grows quickly and is easily subdivided. It requires very little care, so the Bleeding Heart is an easy addition to any garden. Once I planted these (a pink and a white), all I’ve ever had to do was subdivide them. A nice bonus feature includes the plant (it is viny) wrapping around nearby trees.

It ranges in price from $3.00-$20.00, depending on the area where you live and the nurseries. However, most gardeners are willing to share when they subdivide this plant. If you are on a tight budget, ask your friends and family  members.

The Bleeding Heart also comes in white and red:

bleedingheartwhite  bleedingred

If you are looking for a perennial to provide punch and color in your spring garden, the Bleeding Heart is an excellent choice!