Dry Shade Garden

As you might suspect, gardening in shade is a passion of mine, but with this ongoing drought, I must constantly search for plants that can tolerate dry shade. Dry shade is probably the most difficult soil in which plants can grow, because the shade is made even more dry when large trees are soaking up any available moisture when rain does come, leaving very little for other plants with less aggressive root systems. Shade means different things to different people—not all shade is the same. When choosing plants for your shade garden, you must first determine which type of shade you have. For instance, morning shade and afternoon shade are not equal, because the rest of the time is full sun, and shade plants cannot tolerate afternoon sun. Some areas might have filtered shade, when there is dappled bits of sun peaking through the trees. Other areas might have full shade or even deep shade, which means very little light comes in at all. Once you’ve decided which type of shade you have, you must understand if your soil is moist or dry. Many shade plants require moist or even wet soil. If your shady area is moist, you are very fortunate. If your shade garden is dry, then you’re in the boat with me. You will need to amend your soil prior to planting, since anything planted in dry soil needs all the help it can get! Work in any kind of organic matter that is readily available—composted cow manure or mushroom compost work very well. Once these things are accomplished, you can choose your plants and prepare your planting hole. Finally, have ready some organic mulch—shredded pine bark is good but shredded leaves are probably even better for shade plants. Remember to water well at planting time and water often until your new plants are established.

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