Plant a Shady Border
Some of the most beautiful shrubs grow well only in low light conditions. Here's how to create a colorful planting bed with shrubs and underplanted perennials.
A border set in deep shade can be a real bonus in the garden if you choose your plants carefully, because some of the most beautiful shrubs will only grow well in low light conditions. These areas may lack the drama of a sunny spot, but they have a cool and understated sophistication of their own.
Whem to Start: Fall
At Its Best: Spring
Time to Complete: 2 hours for preparation; 3 hours for planting
- well-composted organic matter
- shrubs such as camellia, rhododendron and flowering currant
- plants for underplanting, such as bergenia, bleeding heart, ferns, and hellebores
Before You Plant
Many plants that grow well in shady conditions grow naturally in woodlands and need a cool, moist soil, which has been enriched with organic matter, such as leafmold. In autumn, clear the planting area of all weeds, then mix plenty of finished compost or other organic matter into the soil.
Dig Planting Holes
Buy your shrubs in fall or spring, and plan carefully where you are going to plant them, taking into account their final size. The shrubs go toward the back of the border, with the underplanting below them and in front. The planting holes should be twice as wide and slightly deeper than the pots.
Check Planting Depths
Put some compost in the bottom of each hole and then place a plant on top of it. Use a stake across the hole to check that the plant will be at the same depth when planted as it was in its pot.
Water in Well
Fill in around the plant with soil and compost, and water in well. Water regularly until the plant is established. Mulch with an organic material such as pine or hardwood bark, leaving the area around the stems clear.
Feed the Shrubs
Shrubs need regular feeding to thrive. Early spring is the best time to sprinkle a fertilizer, such as blood, fish and bone meal, around the base of the plants. Repeat each year to keep growth vigorous and healthy.