Containers for Shade

During the recent Going Native Garden Tour, several of the visitors commented that they never know what to plant in containers, and especially in containers in shade. In my garden, I have a set of black containers under the redwoods near the seating area. I always try to throw in something bright green there because the area is quite dark.

I also have several blue containers in a very narrow side strip that is completely paved over. I did a post about my side yard beautification project here; the end result was a row of blue containers and a blue sink.

The containers have worked out fairly well. It's a bit of a challenging spot, with shade for most of the day and about 2 hours of mid-day sun. But the garden hose is right there, so I can water everything twice a week.

The mainstay of my shade garden and my shade containers are three plants:
Asarum caudatum (native ginger)
Heuchera (different colors and sizes, not all native)
Douglas iris (shade-loving Pacific coast iris)

Here's a pot with some purple Heuchera and a few shade-tolerant annuals including Chinese Houses and Mimulus guttatus.

In the first picture of this post, we have a dark blue iris with stunning velvety flowers. Below, we have Heuchera and Asarum caudatum. The Asarum spills over the pot at least a little, and the big shiny leaves are attractive year round.

I often mix in some ferns, as in this container.

As an additional "spiller", I might use Satureja mimeloides (yerba buena - careful, many plants have this common name). Satureja can get a little out of hand in the garden, so a container is the perfect choice. I feel the same about my Rubus parvifolius (thimbleberry), a gift from Ms. Country Mouse. It's a lovely plant in the garden and really lights up the shade!

And I prefer having it in a container because my garden may not be able to - contain it.

I also enjoy trying some new things. Here is Clarkia 'Pink Ribbons' from Annie's Annuals. It bloomed for a long time last year, and I bought a few more this year.

This year, I tried a few new things from Gold Rush Nursery. I adore the Potentialla I bought, shown in the first picture with its large finger-like leaves. And I'm totally captivated by the large yellow flowers.

I also picked up a few rather insignificant looking 4-inch pots with Thalictrum (meadow rue). Yes, it had nice ferny leaves, but I was enchanted when I saw the flowers.

Tiny lanterns, trembling in even the slightest breeze. Having such a plant in a container, closer to eye level, really adds to the enjoyment, though I really enjoy all my containers. And having native plants, even if these shade lovers do need some water, means I can usually get by for 5 days without.


Angela said…
I love those blue containers! Excellent job with your plantings!
Kate said…
The Thimbleberry foliage is very pretty.