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Lifestyle Stories

Some plants shine in the shade

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 09:37 PM

Cloudless, sunny and insanely hot is no one's idea of perfect gardening weather.

But that's what we've got.

The clever among us know how to handle it: Head for the trees.

Shade gardens make for a tolerable June afternoon in the yard, but otherwise, they get a bad rap. After the glare of hot pink and neon yellow blooms in sun gardens, shade lovers have a frumpy, never-been-kissed spinster feel.

Yup, just like Susan Boyle. And what happened when she opened her mouth for "Britain's Got Talent?"

Shade doesn't have to mean boring. There's plenty of vivid color to brighten the dark spaces under trees; the right foliage can have all the appeal of tropical flowers.

And when you plant in the shade, you can garden all day long. Even in June.

Pink snowbush
Breynia disticha 'Roseo-picta'

Blushing pink, muted green and snowy white leaves on red branches create a wash of color that's especially striking when multiple shrubs are planted together. Pink snowbush grows to about 5 feet tall and can be planted in containers, as well as in the ground. They're happy in shade or sun, and soil can dry out between waterings.

Coleus
Coleus X hybridus

There are many varieties of coleus in an array of patterns and color shadings. They'll thrive in the sun, too, but get their glow on in the shade. Plant en masse for bigger impact; pinch off blooms and new growth to encourage a bushier plant.

Caladium

Like coleus, caladium varieties offer a range of color choices, from green and white leaves to blood-red rimmed with vivid green. Leaf sizes vary as well. Caladium bulbs are active from spring through autumn, and go dormant in the winter, sprouting anew when it's warm. They're easy to grow, and can thrive in the sun, too.

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