- Holiday Gift Ideas
- UC Marin Master Gardener Events & Classes
Garden Help from UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Farmers Markets
- Help Desk
- Japanese maples
- Container gardening
- Growing gorgeous camellias
- Redwood trees
- Pomegranates: an ancient tree
- Bulbs for spring
- Nothing quite like a freshly picked bouquet
- Seeds hold the miracle of life, so save, swap and share them
- Sold on Salvia
- Sudden Oak Death: a million trees gone and counting
- Habitat gardens
- Growing In Your Garden Now - Fava Beans
- Using water effectively in the garden
- Yikes, thrips
- Growing a salad in a pot
- Rain gardens: an attractive solution to a challenging environmental problem
- How to select bare root roses
- Lovely birds... or pests?
- Australian plants in winter
- Get a head start on spring with cold frames
- Snails and slugs: keep them out of the garden
- Sow seeds now for flowers in spring and summer
- Fire-safe landscaping
- Plants made for the shade
- Chinese pistache tree glows in autumn
- Attracting honey and native bees to your garden
- Sow wildflower seeds in fall for spring show
- Native shrubs create a visual anchor in landscapes - fast
- What to plant in the fall-winter veggie garden
- Proper pruning of wisteria for a plethora of blossoms
- Compost for every corner of your spring garden
- All about mushrooms
- Butterflies in the garden
- Growing blueberries
- How to plant a fruit tree
- Protecting plants from frost
- What's that plant?
- Bright spots of color lift the drabness of the winter garden
- Books for Marin gardeners
- Benefits of School Gardens
- Trees: not just nice to look at
- Dealing with mosquitos
- Epilobium – California fuchsia
- Why bees matter, and how you can help
- Picking the Right Plant for the Right Place in Your Garden
- What's That Plant?
- Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh
- Late Summer Color
- Growing Summer Squash
- Short on space? Containers!
- Herbs: tough, attractive, practical
- These plants are true companions
- Companion planting in the vegetable garden
- Get Grounded – Healthy Soil Does Matter
- Mushrooms on the March
- Our Gentle Winters are Good for Vegetables
- Rodents like it Warm
- Know What Makes an Invasive Species Invasive
- California Natives - Plant Like a Native
- Consider a Simple Water-Catchment System and Rain Garden/Bioswale Before Winter Rains Arrive
- Have You Scheduled a FREE Bay-Friendly Garden Walk?
- A Green Autumn
- Rx for Pests: Ants
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- Colorful Drought-Tolerant Plants Thrive in Marin
- Water Restrictions and Recognizing Signs of Water Stress
- UC Researcher Is Helping Plants Survive the Drought
- Summer Is Perfect For Peppers
- Do the Leaves on Your Trees Look Scorched?
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- How to Recognize Drought and Water Stress
- Spring is the Time for Potatoes, Asparagus and Citrus
- Don't Let Stink Bugs... Bug Your Vegetables
- Harvesting Berries
- Water Heroes
- Natural Cold Storage
- Fruit Trees; Why We Treat Them in Dormancy
- Fondness for Old Friends
- What Happens to Garden Bad Guys in Winter?
- Plants that aren't blown away by the wind
- A hill o' beans
- Fruit tree thinning
- Fragrant plants: Add some chocolate or Kool-Aid to your garden
- Top 10 resolutions for Marin gardeners
- Trees with interesting bark shine in winter
- Who says your garden has to be green?
- Plant bulbs now for spring beauty
- Gardener's checklist for fall
- Cover crops boost soil in vegetable beds
- Rx: Living with deer
- Growing berries in Marin
- How to build healthy soil
- Gardener's checklist for summer
- Water-saving tips for the home garden
- Gardener's checklist for spring
- Stop the popping - Controlling hairy bittercress
- How to control aphids
- Brightening up the winter garden
- Selecting a fruit tree
- What to plant and harvest in the winter vegetable garden
- Rain, rain, don't go away
- Gardener's checklist for winter
- Getting rid of rats
- Fall: a time for planning and planting
- Asparagus: spears for years
- Lawn: use it or lose it
- Rx for powdery mildew
- Community Outreach Projects of UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Great Gardening Information
- Selecting Plants
- Marin Master Gardener Independent Journal Articles
- How to Become a Master Gardener
- UC Marin Master Gardeners Opportunity Fund: Providing for the Future
Plants that are made for the shade
For many, the “perfect,” garden conjures images of a dappled woodland filled with tree-shaded ferns, shy buds appearing from the deep green shade, and perhaps the sound of running water. Romantic as this vision may be, gardening in the shade can be challenging. If you are planning a shade garden -- either because you live on a northern slope or have a patch of ground in the shadow of a tree or building -- there are many beautiful plants, including edibles, that you can grow.
As with all garden projects, be sure to properly prepare the soil before planting shade-loving plants. This often means adding compost to lighten and enrich the soil. One of the difficulties of planting under trees is that the tree roots will take water and nutrients from the understory plants. You may need to water more frequently or, better still, chose plants that do not require a lot of water. An extra dose of compost will help provide the extra nutrients that tree roots may otherwise steal, or another way to deal with the root problem is to build raised beds. It's possible, but difficult, to add shrubs, bulbs or grasses after tree roots have expanded into the area where you want to add new plant material. Try small annuals or a few seeds covered with a thin layer of mulch (keeping it 2 inches away from the tree trunk), if the surface roots are not too thickly established.
Watering a shady garden requires sensitivity to the soil's moisture. Because of shade, the soil may be less dry than in a sunny garden. Temperature and wind are also determinants. Large deciduous trees, such as Japanese maples, are sensitive to drying out, so monitor soil moisture carefully. Mulch is critical to protect surface roots from drying out.
What should you plant in the shade?
The range of shade-favoring flowers encompasses many garden favorites. There are many widely available small annuals such as lobelia, impatiens and violas that prefer shade. Ferns of all shapes and sizes typically appreciate shadier conditions. Traditional ornamentals such as foxglove, hosta and hellebores are not only good shade plants, but also thrive in a dry shade garden, reducing water requirements. The large perennial abutilon, known as the flowering maple or Chinese lantern, offers long-blooming, graceful floating "lantern" flowers. For more shade-loving color, check out the lovely and ever-expanding array of azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons.
California native plants offer a treasure chest of dry-shade choices. These plants generally prefer little to no summer water and work especially well on shady hillsides. The large shrub species Ribes sanguineum glutinosum, or pink-flowering currant, offers dramatic clusters of pendulous flowers and is very drought tolerant in coastal gardens. A good drought-tolerant plant to fill in empty spots is the Ranunculus californicus or California buttercup. Be sure to check out the Mimulus species, or shrubby monkey-flower. These drought-tolerant plants tolerate partial shade and offer a swarm of adorable, funny-faced flowers. For a tasty treat, try the native strawberry, Fragaria vesca, a low, spreading groundcover that produces small but sweet fruit.
Shade-tolerant vegetables are generally those we think of as cool-weather crops that we grow for their leaves and roots. If you have three hours of sun a day, you can grow leafy greens such as arugula, bok choy, kale, lettuce or spinach. In fact, delicate greens often do well with less direct sun because they will not bolt as quickly. Mesclun mix can grow with as little as two hours of sun per day and can be re-harvested several times before requiring replanting.
Root vegetables such as beets, carrots, potatoes and turnips also can grow in the shade, but do not produce as quickly. You are better off choosing to harvest them as "baby" vegetables rather than waiting for the slow growth to full maturity.
Another good choice for a shady kitchen garden is culinary herbs. Chervil, parsley and sweet woodruff prefer shade. Among the herbs that do well in part shade are borage, chamomile, chives, garlic chives, lemon balm and tarragon. The mint family also does very well in partial shade.
Original articles by Juliana Jensen and Julie Monson
Edited for the Leaflet by Marie Narlock