By Katie Marks, Networx
Living in a shady spot can be a pain. You're tremendously limited in terms of what you can plant in the garden, as most plants prefer full sun or part shade at most, but you're rather not look at an array of ferns and moss, right? Fortunately, there are actually tons of shade-loving plants, with more cultivars coming out every year. That's good news for you and your garden -- and we're here to talk about 10 of the most fun, eye-catching, and unique shade-lovers of 2014.
Hellebore "Winter Thriller Irish Ruffles"
The name is a mouthful, and the plant is a stunner. Hellebores are a great choice for the shade garden, and this one is no exception. When it bursts into bloom in late winter, it produces electric green blooms demurely edged in red, like something out of a fantasy world. Talk about a welcome blast of color when the grim winter weather is getting you down. "Winter Thriller Irish Ruffles" withstands drought, deer, shade, and part-shade with equal aplomb, and it likes zones four through eight.
Heucherella "Gold Cascade"
Need to glam up your garden? This creeping plant has scalloped leaves in stunning golden-green with red centers, and it will gleefully spread if it's happy where it is -- which would be, of course, in shade and part-shade. Gardeners in zones four through nine can enjoy this beaut, along with its delicate flowers. It's also ideal for containers, where it can spill quite fetchingly over the sides as it grows.
Coralbells "Cinnamon Curls"
Imagine rich red foliage in low, dense clusters, with wavy edges and a saucy look. In the summer, slender stalks covered in white bell-shaped flowers emerge, nodding gently over the foliage. This cultivar is a real cutie, loves zones four through nine, and does fine in shade and partial shade.
Heuchera "Lime Ruffles"
It would appear that bright, bold, aggressive lime green is in for this year. The big showcase with "Lime Ruffles" is the foliage, which almost looks radioactive in shade or part shade. It also produces small white flowers in the fall. If you're growing in zones four through nine, consider this gorgeous plant for bedding and splashes of bold color.
Brunnera "Alexander's Great"
Huge silver and green leaves mound in an impressive pile, shooting out sky-blue flowers on long, elegant stalks in the spring. This plant loves rich soil that's consistently moist, making it a good choice for a more boggy area of the garden, and it's partially deer resistant, music to the ears of those of us who are constantly battling four-legged marauders. Whether in full or partial shade, this plant thrives in USDA zones four through eight.
Coralbells "Black Taffeta"
I am a sucker for black or almost-black plants. This plant has rich black ruffly foliage that stays dark even in the bright summer months, with stunning contrasting pink flowers. If you want a little bold color to stand out in the shade or part shade, this lovely coralbells cultivar thrives in zones four through nine. Try growing this lovely specimen alongside your Charlotte concrete garden walkway.
Heucherella "Buttered Rum"
Bronzed foliage with dark red veining makes this low shrub stand out from the pack, with small stalks filled with tiny white flowers. In the fall, those leaves will deepen up to a nice dark red, making this plant stand out even more, whether it's growing in full or partial shade. If you're in zones four through nine, "Buttered Rum" can be all yours!
Hosta "Curly Fries"
Who doesn't love curly fries!? You won't want to eat this plant, but it is pretty adorable, with its long, slender, twisting leaves. With lovely mounding foliage perfect for borders and containers, the blue flowers "Curly Fries" produces almost seem like icing on the cake. This hardy plant likes shade to part shade in zones three through nine.
Foamflower "Stephanie Cohen"
I love foamflowers, because they have the most delicate, lacy, frothy blooms, as the name implies. "Stephanie Cohen" has bright green leaves offset by stalks of pink foliage, and it enjoys both shade and part shade. It's also drought tolerant, and does well in containers and borders as well as on slopes. (Like, say, in a shady rock garden.) Gardeners in zones four through nine can enjoy this beauty.
Bleeding Heart "Amore Pink"
Another longtime favorite of mine, the bleeding heart is a stunner in shade gardens, with its long, sagging stalks of heart-shaped flowers that do indeed appear to be bleeding, or weeping, over something. With handsome blue-green foliage that mounds tightly and looks great in beds or borders, "Amore Pink" produces bold pink flowers that are great in bouquets and cut flower arrangements as well as on the plant. This plant is suitable for shade or part shade in zones five through nine.
Go out and get adventurous in your shade garden!