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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.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

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

Materials Needed:

  • shovel
  • 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.

mix leafmold into soil in fall to add nutrientsHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

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.

dig holes for shrubs leaving room for plant growthHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

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.

use stake to check depth of newly planted shrubHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

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.

water regularly until new plant is establishedHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

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.

sprinkle fertilizer around base of plantsHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

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