Still have a few planters in shady spots that need filling? Here are three combinations of shade-tolerant plants, each with a distinctive personality. Don’t worry if you can’t find the exact cultivars noted here; your local nursery will have plenty of options once you know the look and style you have in mind. And, while we love terra cotta pots, look around during weekend flea market crawls for other options. If it holds soil and either has drainage or you can drill holes, it’s fair game!
This combination of both smokey purple-black and phosphorescent chartreuse coral bells, with bark-brown sedge (the frothy grass) will thrive in partial shade or in full sun where it can get some protection from hot afternoon rays. Coral bells bloom from spring right through summer which adds a lively note. Overwinter in an unheated garage or cover with a mulch of leaves in colder zones. Planting in a flea market find such as this rustic crate adds a cottage touch to this exciting, elegant combo.
Classic green and white combinations looks good just about everywhere in the garden, from porches to poolside. They really prove their worth, however, when you set them where they can be kissed by moonlight. The reflected light bouncing off shiny, green leaves and brilliant white foliage is spellbinding; think front-of-the-house windowboxes or large planters on the patio. This combo will thrive in filtered light or in full sun with protection from afternoon sun. It’s perennial in warmer zones; cool climates will need to bring indoors and set in a bright window.
While shade is a cool and restful place, we can’t resist lighting it up with a bit of dramatic, saturated color. What makes this so showy is not just that glowing ember orange, but the play of forms and shapes–dangling pendants of the begonia, curving fronds of the fern, masses of little-leafed coleus. It’s pretty dazzling. Set this one in partial shade to partial sun (such as under an arbor or pergola where a bit of light gets in, in a windowbox on the east or north sides of the house, or wherever you get morning sun) and enjoy the show.