C.B. asks from Olathe, KS on February 27, 2011
hi ladies! fun night on the old board tonight! i actually have a question though, soon (can't wait!) it will be time for planting our gardens here in kansas. (ok not really soon "enough" because we're supposed to be getting snow in my area tonight - but i am SO READY!) my problem is that i have a lovely little 8x8 or so garden in front of our house, and a sidewalk begging for a border or some pots along it. however, last year (the first year we lived in this duplex) all i could manage was a few pots at the very end of the sidewalk, because the rest got NO sunshine. really just a couple hours a day. being a duplex, the garden/sidewalk are on the inside of an "L" shape. it's almost always in shadow.
what i would like is some nice flowering annuals, low maintenance, simple. i have a trio of some kind of lilies that come up, from whoever lived here before, which i kinda don't even like, but they are so big and healthy and beautiful when they come up, that i hate to move them. so i feel i should kind of work "around" them. the other problem i have is that the dang gutters somehow dump ALL the water from the roof, right into one side of the garden. it is causing the concrete from the porch to erode into the garden, so half the garden is rocky with lots of gravel. AND it gets doused every time we have a rainstorm. which in kansas in the spring, is pretty often.
as i said, i rent, so it's not like i can do a lot of landscaping and repairs to make this work. plus my budget is pretty limited. last year i bought a couple bags of potting soil, a couple of pots, three bags of mulch, and maybe a dozen plants. i also got hostas, which never did much at all. while i am here aren't hostas perennials? so i am not sure how to work around them if i can't see them - or will i start to see them coming back up by the time it's planting time? any suggestions?? thanks!
A.W. answers from Kalamazoo on February 27, 2011
Yes, hostas are perennials and usually do good in the shade. Coleus and bagonias are annuals that I think do pretty well in the shade. Usually the rule is the bigger the leaf, the more water they require in the sun or the better they do in the shade.
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L.M. answers from New York on February 27, 2011
Yes hostas are perennials. There are many different varieties and they grow very well in the shade. By planting time, you shoud start seeing them poke through the ground.
Your best bet for annuals in a shaded area are impatients. You may want to consider puting these in a hanging basket and hanging from an iron shepards hook.
For perennials - I have astilbe in my shade garden it does very well. You may also want to consider lily of the valley. Many people in our area have bleeding hearts, but I've never had any luck with them.
I recommend visiting a local nursery/garden center. They can offer some suggestions for plants that will grow well in your area. (Note -it may cost a few $$ more, but the service, plant quality, and guarentee are worth it)
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J.R. answers from Glens Falls on February 27, 2011
If you are looking for an annual, try "wishbone" (also known as torenia) flowers. They are small (like 9") with profuse blue flowers - they do great in shade, even deep shade. Astilbe, bleeding hearts, lenten rose, sweet william, hostas are all great shade perennials. Fringed bleeding heart has a long blooming season. I can't wait to get started either!
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D.S. answers from Houston on February 27, 2011
sweet williams and bleeding hearts. you have to read the plants some are annual and some are perinneal same flower just some are annuals. another thing to consider is plastic flowers you can have pretty now and no matter how much sun you get. and do real where the flowers got lots of sun. I am seriously debating the plastic idea for an apartment. pots dry out to quickly. and plastic dont need water
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H.S. answers from Kansas City on February 28, 2011
You definitely need to direct the water away from your flower bed first. Go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy an inexpensive flexible extension for the end of your gutter and direct the water out of the bed entirely. If you don't do this, you will most likely have ongoing problems with the soil being too wet at times.
By the time it's warm enough to plant annuals (mid-April/early May), the Hostas will be showing a bit, so you should know where they are located. Definitely ask a local greenhouse/nursery, such as Family Tree, about what plants would work best in dense shade. Their prices are a bit high, but once you know what you are looking for, you can shop around for the best prices. Several other stores, such as Home Depot or Walmart, always carry the standard varieties and have sales running at different times.
Impatiens, Begonias, Coleus (colorful foliage), Caladium (non-flowering but colorful foliage) are all good sturdy annual plants for the shade. They will give you the most color for a longer period of time throughout the summer than perennials.
Again, the nurseries are where you will find the knowledge and expertise you are looking for. Good luck and happy gardening!
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