SHADE TOLERANT PLANTS THAT ARE NOT DEER RESISTANT
by Jerry Parsons, Ph.D.
Horticulture Specialist, Texas Agricultural Extension Service
in San Antonio
The first column for May, 2002, listed the few
plants which are deer resistant, with the added benefit of
being shade tolerant.
Here is a list of plants which deer DO eat,
but also do well in semi-shade.
(This list is for those gardeners who live where they do not
have to contend with deer foraging or damage.)
The authors of this list wish to emphasize that the more sun
received, the more flowers produced by flowering plants and
the less spindly the plants will grow.
Tropical Giant Spider Lily
(Hymenocallis caribbea 'Tropical Giant')
White Rain Lily
(Caladium x hortulanum)
See information on caladiums at this website:
Impatiens are without a doubt the most spectacular
shade-blooming annuals available. Impatiens is the formal
name for the popular, and pretty, old-fashioned flower often
called busy Lizzie and sultana. Few other bedding plants bloom
with so little sunlight and no other bedding plant offers
the glowing, luminescent colors of impatiens.
Their radiant colors range from cool white
to lavender-rose, intense pink to brilliant orange reds. The
most common series available are the Super Elfin (violet,
orange, red, rose, salmon and white) and Soda Pop. The New
Guinea hybrid impatiens with attractively variegated leaves
are now "the rage" and very attractive in containers
at nurseries and garden centers. However, New Guinea impatiens
DO NOT perform well in this area and SHOULD BE AVOIDED.
Impatiens plants grow into colorful mounds
that bloom all summer. They come in several heights, from
eight inches up to 15 or 20 inches tall. The shorter ones
make fine edging, foreground, hanging basket, and small container
It's best to wait until the weather is settled
on the warm side of spring before planting impatiens - obviously,
the time has come. They are tender plants that grow fast in
warm and hot weather.
Impatiens are adaptable plants, not caring
unduly about the type of soil you plant them in, provided
it's well drained. To give them the best start in your garden,
dig the ground to a depth of 6-8 inches. Work in plenty of
organic matter such as peat moss, leaf mold or compost; add
perlite or bark to improve drainage where the soil is heavy
Under established trees, you may need to replace
the exhausted and root-laden soil with a fresh supply from
elsewhere in the garden, or with a container soil mix. For
hanging baskets, window boxes and planters, use equal volumes
of potting soil, peat moss, and coarse sand or perlite; or
buy a ready-prepared mixture for your containers.
As you dig and mix the soil, add some slow-release
fertilizer --2 pounds per 100 square feet--to boost fertility
levels for your bedding plants. Feed New Guinea hybrid impatiens
every month to maintain their vibrant colors. As growth slows
in late summer, all impatiens will benefit from an extra shot
Transplant impatiens in the late afternoon
or evening, or on a cloudy day so the new plants aren't immediately
subjected to full noonday heat. Carefully separate the plants
from one another and from their containers. The stems are
brittle so handle them gently. Space impatiens 12 inches apart.
Plants grown in peat pots can be set in the prepared ground,
pot and all, but be sure to cover the whole peat pot with
soil, folding under the top rim that rises above soil level.
If the top of the pot rises above the soil, the pot will act
as a wick--drawing moisture away from the plants' roots.
Water well to settle the transplanted roots
into their new home. Check every few days and water again
when soil starts to dry out.
Your colorful impatiens will blossom and flourish
all summer long in shade, and even in moderate sunshine when
you provide enough water. At the end of summer, you can dig
up your favorite ones and replant in pots. Or, take cuttings
for indoor decoration all winter long.
SUN OR SHADE COLEUS FOR SUMMER
People can't survive the heat of summer without
it and most plants can't produce in it. Shade is a blessing
to folks and a curse to most plants. Fruiting and flowering
plants require a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight
to be productive. If less light is received, these plants
will live but production of blooms and fruit will be diminished
or eliminated. Even so-called shade-blooming flowers such
as impatiens and begonias will not bloom in dense shade.
The solution to successful growing in shady
areas is to use plants that are not grown to produce fruit
or flowers. Vegetable gardeners use shady areas for growing
beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, greens, lettuce, radishes,
spinach and turnips. Landscapers use St. Augustine grass,
which slowly declines in shaded areas, and ground covers such
as Asiatic Jasmine, English Ivy, Liriope or Monkey Grass.
For color in shady areas, the two best colored-foliage plants
are caladiums and coleus.
Unfortunately the sunlight conditions of most
planting sites are seldom situations of all or nothing. Sometimes
planting sites receive the ideal condition of morning sun
with afternoon shade. Some sites receive midday sun or, the
worst possible scenario, morning shade with hot, scorching
afternoon sun. Most ornamental plants that bloom or provide
colorful foliage in shaded areas are damaged by exposure to
the searing afternoon Texas sun.
Now people have the answer to those difficult
morning-shade and afternoon-sun planting areas. The sun?tolerant
coleus are here! Sun-tolerant coleus are being sold this year
as SUN-OR-SHADE (S-O-S) coleus which can actually be planted
in full sun, complete shade or anything in between, yet provide
the colorful display for which coleus are so well known. These
coleus are collectively termed sun coleus because of their
unusual ability to withstand the intense heat and sunlight
of Texas' summers.
The SUN-OR-SHADE coleus, listed in order of
sun tolerance, are:
Burgundy Sun -a deep, burgundy-colored, large oval to heart-shaped
leaf on a vigorous plant (2 ½ feet). A severe cutback
in July, even in a full, hot sun condition, will not kill
Eclipse - a burgundy-colored, large oval to
heart-shaped leaf edged with brilliant golden margins provides
an eclipsing appearance for this vigorous plant which can
be 24 inches tall depending on growing conditions.
Lemon Lace - a ruffled, lanceolate-shaped leaf
splashed with green and yellow on a vigorous plant to 2 feet.
New Orleans - a ruffled, lanceolate-shaped
leaf which is red, splashed with purple, highlighted with
Plum Parfait - a ruffled, lanceolate-shaped
leaf which is purple splashed with pink edges on a vigorous
plant to 2 feet.
All coleus colors described can be altered
slightly by the planting site and/or the exposure received.
All coleus plants should be transplanted 12 to 18 inches apart.
The sun?tolerant coleus require some special
growing amendments to insure best results. The coleus is a
fleshy-type plant that requires a well drained growing area
(or it will rot), consistent moisture levels (or it will dry,
wilt and die) and adequate amounts of fertility throughout
the growing season (or it will not be showy). Amend growing
sites with generous amounts of organic material (peat moss,
compost, manure). Apply 2 pounds of a slow-release fertilizer
formulation per 100 square feet of area before planting. Installation
of a drip irrigation system to provide adequate moisture will
enhance the growth of coleus. After plants are established,
and during periods of limited amounts of rainfall, operate
the drip system for 3 hours a day every 2nd day. An additional
2 pounds of a slow-release fertilizer formulation per 100
square feet of planting bed should be added to the planting
site in July. This side-dress fertilizer application can be
made at the time of cut-back for the more vigorous coleus
varieties if desired.
These sun-tolerant coleus varieties are excellent
candidates for use in patio containers or hanging baskets
which may be exposed to varying degrees of shade and sun.
Make sure all containers drain well, and a well-draining potting
mix is used. To insure adequate growth, include the proper
amount (according to label instructions) of Osmocote Slow?Release
fertilizer pellets and water with a water soluble fertilizer
every 2 weeks.
The sun-tolerant coleus will solve many of
the growing problems that people have experienced with shady
areas. The sun-tolerant coleus is a beautiful solution to
the shady conditions which, in Texas, the need for trees has
(Aquilegia chrysantha 'Texas Gold' and 'Blazing Star')
See write-up at this PLANTanswers website:
For information, see this website:
See write-up and photos at:
The Firespike is a plant which solves the problem
of having a shady area in which very few plants will grow,
much less bloom. Firespike will not only grow in the shade
but plants will provide a magnificent display of practically
glow?in?the?dark red bloom spikes that attract hummingbirds
Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is a shade
loving, tender perennial with deep green, glossy leaves. It
will be grown for its beautiful foliage in the spring and
summer. Firespike is a substitute for the popular hosta that
is popular throughout the U. S. but is devoured by snails
in this area of Texas. This beautiful foliage provides a startling
contrast to its fire?red late season blooms. Hummingbirds
and butterflies cherish its brilliant spikes of deep red flowers
in late summer and fall.
Firespike can be grown as a tropical container
plant, an annual which grows about 2 feet the first season.
If it survives the winter as a protected perennial, it grows
more than 4 feet tall. This plant can be grown in heavy clay
soils and wet conditions. Some recommend that these plants
be dug and potted in late fall and used as blooming house
plants throughout the winter. It is one our most versatile
plants, and definitely the best blooming plants for shade
GINGERS (Butterfly, Spiral, Pinecone,
(Hedychium spp., Costus, Alpinia)
See photo at this website:
Persian Shield is a shade tolerant, purple?leafed
ornamental native to
Burma. Attractive colorful foliage from spring to frost. Zone
See photo at:
The name commemorates the French botanist, Jacques
Barrelier, who died in 1673. The inappropriately-named Phillipine
violet is a native of India. The flowers are pale violet-blue.
This plant was discovered growing at the zoo and was introduced
into the area by Paul Cox of the San Antonio Botanical Garden.
It will grow in full to partial shade.
Purple Heart is in the Genus Setcreasea which
has nine species of the spiderwort family Commelinaceae. Purple
Heart was discovered in a window box at the Tampico, Mexico,
airport and named in the early 1950's by a Puerto Rican nurseryman.
In 1955 the newcomer was described and given the scientific
name Setcreasea purpurea but later redefined as a variety
of Setcreasea pallida.
Setcreaseas are more or less succulent, trailing,
clambering or erect with thick roots and fleshy stems. The
lavender to purple flowers are in terminal clusters, each
partly enveloped by a pair of leaf bracts.
Purple Heart is native to the dry and semi-desert
parts of Mexico. It is trailer or creeper with the young parts
of its shoots erect. In warmer parts of Texas, the plants
never freeze so the planting can become overgrown and "snaky";
in colder climates the plant is root hardy -- the top freezes
and is removed, but it re-sprouts from the roots. It has attractive
purple shoots during the hottest, driest part of the summer.
Gardeners who live in warmer climates can enjoy the same beauty
from this plant by mowing it off or raking the tops away every
It is a beautiful purple plant which lives
in shade or sun, with little or no water. It can be weeded
(if bermuda grass dares invade its territory) with a one-half
strength glyphosate (Roundup, Kleanup) spray; and has a pretty
little bloom at the tip of each stem. Many have called this
plant Purple Jew because it is in the Wandering Jew family
but we prefer the name Purple Heart.
DWARF MEXICAN PETUNIA or RUELLIA
(Ruellia brittoniana 'Katie' and 'Bonita')
This is a small heat-loving perennial with a
profusion of lavender-purple flowers throughout the growing
Exposure: Full sun to part shade.
Size: 1 foot x 1 foot.
Bloom time: Spring till frost.
Care: Low maintenance. Drought tolerant. Pest resistant. Shear
after first frost.
Monkey Grass/Mondo Grass
Wood Fern/River Fern
SHADE-TOLERANT WATER GARDEN PLANTS
See information at this PLANTanswers website: http://www.plantanswers.com/water_plants_tolerate_shade.htm