We’ve all learned that we should focus on foliage plants for our shade gardens, and think of any flowers as welcomed surprises. May we bring to your attention a few plants that you may want to add fora fall surprise? I would say that all appreciate partial sun…perhaps about 4 hours for a good display .
First, there is the soft yellow blooming Salvia koyame native to Japan, commonly known as Yellow Woodland Sage. It grows 2’ tall and 3’ wide, with bold gray-green leaves that are generally left undisturbed by deer, but bumbles butterflies and hummingbirds are happy to discover it. Salvia koyame likes a well drained soil with perhaps 4 hours of sun to flower well, and is hardy in zones 5-9.
Another plant we’ve enjoyed in our shade garden for years is Boehmeria platanifolia commonly called Sycamore Nettle. It too has bold foliage, reminiscent of Sycamore Maple with incised edges, and can attain a size of 3-4’ with equal width. The flowers are a curious pale green-white, and fuzzy, on drooping tassels. It is enjoyed by various bees. Plants are hardy in zones 5-9.
Japanese Mountain Mint is a shrubby member of the mint family; it does not run. The form ‘Gold Angel’ with its pale lemon leaves. is more restrained in growth (2-3’) than its gold and green variegated counterpart, ‘Mountain Madness’ which quickly grows to 4-5’. Both ‘Mountain Madness’ and ‘Gold Angel’ display bottle brush cream colored flowers in late September-October) and are welcomed by various bees. Generally undisturbed by deer, plants are hardy in zones 5-8.
Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’ offers a bold golden foliage alternative to Hosta that the deer bypass. In September, clusters of tiny white flowers are produced that are favored by Honeybees, which are then followed by deep purplish black seeds. Plants can reach heights of 4-5’ in height and width, although it is generally listed to 3’, ‘Sun King’ is hardy in zones 3-9.
Yes there is a hardy Plectranthus (through zone 6, anyway). Plectranthus effusus longituba has gone through several Genus names…It used to be called Rabdosia and also Isodon. Willowy stems adorned with long tubular soft blue lavender flowers add a softness to the partial shade garden. Plants enjoy well drained soil, and grow 2′ to 3’ tall. hardiness zones 6a-9.
Of course there are the many Toad Lilies. we think ‘Tojen’ gives you the best floral display, but the very graceful Tricyrtis ‘White Towers’ is a charmer. Toad Lilies like an evenly moist soil and prefers a soil that drains well in the winter. Both are hardy in zones 4-9.
Which are your favorite late season bloomers for shady gardens?