Some warm-weather plants do well in shade
By: LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings
As the peak of the spring bedding plant season arrives, you may want a few warm-season flowers in the shady areas around your landscape.
Most of our warm-season flowers prefer full sun or at least more sun than shade. But many great bedding plants will provide desirable flowering and foliage for those shaded areas in your landscape through fall. Examples are torenia (wishbone flower), different types of begonias, caladiums, coleus and the “king of shade” — impatiens.
Impatiens is the warm-season flower for shade. Overall, it the most-sold, warm-season bedding plant around the country, and they come in many flower colors. Morning sun is fine, but impatiens will need shade from late morning through late afternoon, if possible, to perform best.
Plants will flower throughout the warm season of the year. Now, you also can get impatiens with trailing growth habits. Great companion plants include coleus, begonia, torenia and caladiums.
Plant impatiens in midspring in well-drained, moist soil. Most impatiens will get 18 inches tall. Sometimes, however, they may get tall and leggy when planted too close together. Prune them lightly in late summer, and plants will be in bloom again in two weeks.
The most common companion plant for impatiens in a shade garden is typically caladiums. These plants can be purchased as bulbs or can be bought already growing in containers.
Caladiums offer colorful foliage in the shade garden — green, pink and red are the most common colors. Caladiums are grown for their leaves, and the lighter-colored varieties work best in shady settings.
Begonias are available in many shapes, sizes and flower colors. Foliage colors include green, bronze and red. Typically the greener-foliaged begonias do best in shade while the reddish and bronze-foliage begonias tolerate some sunny areas. Rum, Whiskey, Vodka and Gin are the varieties in the Cocktail series of begonias — a longtime favorite in the South.
Many begonias, such as Dragon Wing and others, do well in Louisiana shade. They are promoted as more sun-type plants in more northern climates, but the Dragon Wing begonias need shade here.
You also should seriously consider the BabyWing begonias. These are Louisiana Super Plants for this spring. BabyWing has bigger leaves on larger plants than you may think by looking at the name.
Plants in the BabyWing series reach about 18 inches tall, and flowers come in pink and white. Partial shade is a great planting location for them.
Coleus have traditionally been shade plants, but many new varieties are promoted for sunnier settings.
Older seed-propagated varieties, such as Wizard and Rainbow, are good for shade. In addition, the large-leaved Kong series is an impressive grower.
Coleus, like caladiums, are grown for foliage enhancement in the garden. The sun-type varieties of coleus perform just as well in shade as they do in full sun — although foliage color is not as impressive.
Torenia, also referred to as wishbone flower, is a great, underused shade-performing bedding plant for blooms from spring through fall. Humidity doesn’t bother it, either.
The Summer Wave torenia are popular. Flower colors include white, pink, purple, lavender and yellow. They are not tall — usually 12-14 inches.
In the flowerbed, space them 1 foot apart, although the trailing types may need 18 inches between individual plants. No deadheading is needed, and they are no-fuss, no-care plants.
Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (La. 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.