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Monthly Newsletter - June 2011
This months gardening article covers a very popular question, which I am asked on a regular basis. How does one deal with, and what does one plant in the shade. There are three different types of shade, semi-shade or part sun, dappled shade through trees and full shade. Another important factor to consider, is whether it is dry or wet shade.
 
Plants for dry shade, Indigenous:
*Clivia miniata or Bush Lily, is a rhizomatic plant with strappy dark green foliage and heads of bright orange or red trumpet flowers. (Available in yellow and other colours as well)
*Dietes grandiflora and Dietes bicolor, commonly known as Wild Iris, have long thin strappy leaves and masses of iris flowers making quite a show.
*Hypoestes aristata or Ribbon bush, which were mentioned in last months article as butterfly attracting plants can also be grown in shade.
*Draceana alectriformis is a form plant with a crown of long dark green leaves on top of cane growth. The long spike of masses of small scented flowers attract butterflies and bees, and are full of activity.
*Crassula multicava or Fairy Crassula is a lovely succulent groundcover with masses of small pinky white flowers on spindly stems.
 
Plants for wet shade, Indigenous:
*Makaya bella or River bells is a medium size shrub, with lush green foliage and masses of white bell flowers, attracting butterflies.
*Zantedeschia aethiopica or Arum lily's are also great for wet shade, with their large lush green foliage and large spathe like flowers, which make good cut flowers.
*Chlorophytum comosum, commonly known as Hen & Chicken's can also be used for wet shade. There are many different varieties, all easy to grow.
 
Plectranthus is a genus of indigenous shrubs, perennials and groundcovers with masses of spur like spike flowers. Popular and readily available varieties are 'Mona Lavander', angel wings, ecklonii, fruticosus, ciliatus and verticillatus. All of these attract a lot of butterflies. These can handle wet or dry areas and any type of shade.
 
Plants for dry shade, Exotic:
*Aspidistra elatior or the Cast Iron plant is perfect for dry shade and can handle all forms of neglect and harsh conditions. Comes in plain green and variegated forms and is used for the floristry business.
*Philodendron xanadu or Philodendron 'Rojo Congo' are foliage plants for  shade and are hardy. They can also be grown indoors.
*Hedera helix or English Ivy and Vinca major or Periwinkle are good groundcovers for shade.
*Begonias work well for colour in shade. There is the perennial Begonia 'Dragon Wings' and the annual ones in trays.
*Bromeliads are also good for shade.
 
Plants for wet shade, Exotic:
*Cyathea brownea or the common Tree Fern, thrives in wet shady conditions.
*Asplenium nidus or Birds Nest fern is another winner for shady wet spots. The long bright green shiny leaves create a lush tropics effect.
*Spathiphyllum commutatum and Spathiphyllum sensation are both types of Peace lily's and can both be used for indoors and outdoors. Flower profusely with white spathes.
*Anthurium andreanum's come in a variety of colours and forms and can be grown indoors and outdoors. They create masses of spathes on and off through the year.
*Ferns also flourish in wet shady conditions.
 
People always tell me that there is nothing to plant in shady areas, and that shady areas are ugly. Never again do I want to hear this. A shady area is challenging yes, but never impossible to recreate into a masterpiece. Have fun creating your shady haven