Growing plants in containers in the shade has its own set of distinctive challenges. The sun is the most important factor in growing plants. It provides the necessary warmth and light for plants to grow. Plants that grow in the shade or partial shade will be shorter and produce fewer flowers, fruit, and vegetables.
If you have a shady area in your garden, consider using a container as it can help add some interest to a space that needs a boost. You might even have a shady side of your house that could use a window box. Shade gardens allow you to experiment with textures and foliage color.
Here are tips that you can use to help you grow sensational containers:
Light – Determine how much light is available in the location you want to put your container or window box. Part shade is defined as receiving 4 to 6 hours of sun. Full shade is defined as receiving less than 4 hours of sun. If you are going to be growing your plants in full shade it will be tricker. In this type of light, you will need to be more creative in playing with color and texture. Additionally, if one side of your container will receive more light than the other, the side with more light will have to be trimmed to keep them uniform.
Container Selection – You will have a lot more flexibility with containers when you garden in the shade. You will not have to water as often as having a container in the sun. You can go with multiple containers or one large one. Just make sure you have a pot with drainage. Water must be able to easily drain out of the container. If the container does not drain, the plant will get soggy and that can cause it to rot.
Soil – Use potting soil that is light and fluffy. Make sure it does not have water-holding crystals as this type of soil retains water and will keep it soggy. This can lead to root rot.
Watering – Shaded containers will not dry out as quickly as ones that are in the sun, therefore they need to be watered less frequently. Water around once or twice a week, not once or twice a day. Don’t let the container dry out but make sure you do not overwater. It is better to water long and deep as opposed to short and shallow. This helps the plants grow stronger roots.
Fertilizing – Since you are not watering as often, you will not have to feed as frequently. Depending on the type of plants you are including in your containers, the requirements for fertilizing will differ.
- Annuals and Tropical - Fertilizing these plants will make them grow larger. Use an all-purpose fertilizer every two weeks. It is important to water the container first before fertilizing so the plants do not get burned.
- Perennials and Edibles – Add fertilizer to the potting soil at planting time with a continuous release plant food and you will be good for the season.
Maintenance – While growth is slower in the shade you will still have to do maintenance such as deadheading and pruning depending on the plants you have selected. If you have ivy in your containers, you might find it taking over, so you will have to cut it back to keep it in place.
Here are some flower considerations for your shade containers:
Try using some of these foliage plants in your shade containers:
- Rex Begonias
- Spider Plant
Brighten up the shade some white:
- Spider Plants
- White Begonias
- White Feather Hosta
Houseplants can be used in shaded containers:
- Snake Plant
- Boston Fern
These perennials can also look great in shaded containers:
- Bleeding Heart
- Creeping Jenny
Let us know what plants you use in your shade containers!