NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Here in the heat of the North Texas summer it’s time to find some shade, so let’s talk about what can grow there.
If I had to guess, I would say any question that revolves around, “What can I grow in the shade here?” accounts for about 10% to 15% of ALL questions I get. It is a problem often seen around the base of large trees in front yards across North Texas where the grass just can’t quite make it.
For those shady spots in the yard, there’s actually a wide selection of plants to consider. Just walk through the shady spots of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and you can see.
Steve Huddleston has helped plan and maintain the grounds in the gardens for over 35 years. He walked me over to a spot just over from the Trial Garden after we talked about perennial flowers you can grow in the summer heat.
Under a thick canopy of massive trees is a slightly sunken landscape full of color, textures, shapes and sizes. Plants that grow in the shade and produce flowers are rare than those that don’t, and Steve recommends three that are easy to grow and put on quite a good show.
Hellbore comes in many colors. The flowers show up in the spring and some varieties will show nice color right to the edge of the summer heat and, sometimes, even a little further. But even beyond the flowers lies an appealing leaf structure and color.
My neighbor across the street has a lovely hedge row of hydrangeas in his front yard that I have long envied. Steve recommends a native cultivar called Annabelle hydrangea, actually found in the wild in Missouri though it was named after the town of Anna, Illinois. This shrub can get up to five feet tall in the shade and produces a massive softball size cluster of white flowers all summer long.
And then there is Turk’s cap. Next to lantana, this is one of my favorite flowers to grow here in North Texas. It can grow in either sun or shade but in the shade, the leaves will extend from the plant nearly horizontally and the plant will look both bigger and healthier. It produces a small, bright red flower all summer long. The flower is practically designed for hummingbird dining — a bright red tiny bowl of nectar.
When suggesting shade plants, I have done stories on the wide variety of hostas that can fill shady spots. However, be advised that hostas don’t really like the Texas summer heat, even when they sit in the shade all season.
A very good substitute is the spotted leopard plant from Japan. It has rather dramatic foliage and does very well here across the summer. There are three different varieties of this plant, and all three look rather different from one another. Each type will put out a flower at one point in the later season, but it will stick around only briefly.
Four good reasons to find yourself in the shade. You can make it rather green and colorful there.