September Bloomers for the Shade

Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’

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 .

Salvia koyame

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.

Boehmeria platanifolia

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 Shrub Mint bloom

Leucosceptrum japonicum ‘Mountain Madness’

Leucosceptrum japonicum ‘Gold angel’, with a spring Allium peeking through the foliage. Note: a good way to disguise Allium leaves.

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’

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.

Plectranthus effusus longituba

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.

a showy Toad Lily…Tricyrtis hirta ‘Tojen’

Tricyrtis ‘White Towers’

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?




10 thoughts on “September Bloomers for the Shade”

  1. I was gifted a Black Cohosh. After moving it 3 times and finding a place where it is thriving and blooming elegantly now, this plant has become my very favorite fall bloomer, also appreciated by the bees and hummingbirds!

  2. Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’ is incredibly useful. I have three that light up an area of deep shade in my urban Z6 garden. Beautiful, trouble-free, and all the presence of a shrub. However, I must note that I planted a fourth in a different area this year, and rabbits ate it to the roots. Hoping it returns next year, since the bunnies seem to like first-year growth best.

  3. Right now I have a dark-leaved bugbane blooming with heuchera Autumn Bride. Blue aconitum will be joining it shortly. Nearby are various Japanese anemones, tricyrtis, heucheras with fancy colored leaves, and Autumn fern. I love the Fall garden!

  4. Judith and Amanda The black cohosh is a great plant. It likes moisture but good winter drianage. This year we’ve had so much rainfall in the northeast, the Actaea (formerly Cimicifuga) are happy campers.

  5. Your blog is funny and knowledgeable on the subtleties of landscape design! landscapers Edmonton The idea of “garden foreplay” is fascinating, and your writing style adds enjoyment to the study of plants and design. I can’t wait to learn more and find fresh approaches to improving my own garden.

  6. One additional comment. My experience with a golden Japanese Mountain Mint is that it ran like crazy. I had to get rid of it, but evidently didn’t do the job completely, because it still pops up here & there!

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