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Browse Plants

Narrowed By:Uses: Ground Covers , Shade + Moisture: Dry
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 listings   Sort By: Sort
Asarum splendens Asarum splendens
(Chinese wild ginger)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

There are many species and varie­­ties of wild ginger, but this vigorous, fast-growing, and beau­tiful species tops my list. Elongated, heart-shaped, dark green leaves look and feel as if they were made out of Naugahyde and splashed with metallic paint. The foliage shimmers when hit by a beam of light. It is evergreen to 10°F but will quickly reappear in the spring if it freezes. If you want to see the unique, 2-inch-wide, dark purple flowers, get on your hands and knees and look at the base of the plants. Though not particularly showy, they are interestingly attractive.
Plants spread quickly by underground rhizomes, forming a thick mat of foliage that crowds out weeds. I recommend spacing them 10 to 12 inches apart and letting them fill in over the next few years. Plants are not picky about soil pH or type, but they do best in well-drained areas. -Jimmy Turner, Plants for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133

Bergenia cillata Bergenia cillata
(Hairy bergenia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This is the most drought-tolerant bergenia I’ve found and the only one that does well in Texas heat. The large, hairy, critter-resistant leaves do not resemble other members of this genus; they look more like hairy plates or giant African violet leaves—hence, it’s common name. Mature plants will send up 10-inch-long stems of white to pale pink flowers from spring to early summer, but the real reason to grow this plant is its remarkable foliage.
In cooler regions, hairy bergenia grows not only in the shade but also in full sun. It isn’t particular about soil type or pH. Divide plants every three to five years to keep them vigorous. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133

Campanula 'Pink Octopus' Campanula 'Pink Octopus'
('Pink Octopus' spreading bellflower)
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I have a penchant for vigorous, spreading plants: For the price of one plant I can get tons more for free. Plus, plants that spread out are naturals for dry shade; the expanded network of root systems feeds the whole plant, helping it get the water it needs. ‘Pink Octopus’ quickly forms wide mats of tall, deeply cut, light green foliage. Throughout spring, octopus-shaped, candy pink flowers float in a mass over the foliage, sporadically appearing throughout summer. I use this plant as the horticultural equivalent of a slipcover to coat large areas of shade quickly, especially because it can handle the extremes of my Texas climate. This perennial is maintenance-free, other than keeping it from encroaching on less vigorous plants. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133

Cerastium tomentosum Cerastium tomentosum
(Snow-in-summer)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Snow-in-summer is great for rock gardens and dry areas, and also works well as a container plant. Plant it on a stone wall for a cascading effect. Snow-in-summer needs room to perform. A single plant can carpet an area as wide as a yard across. After the flowers fade, the silver/grey foliage shines on in contrast to more predictable shades of green.

Cotoneaster 'Tom Thumb’ Cotoneaster 'Tom Thumb’
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This compact, low-growing, and self-rooting deciduous shrub is useful as an underplanting or ground cover. Its shiny dense foliage turns a brilliant red in the fall and requires little or no pruning.

Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae
(Mrs. Robb's bonnet)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This variety has dark, glossy evergreen leaves arranged in tight rosettes, and it produces yellow-green bracts in mid-spring and early summer.

Festuca glauca 'Boulder Blue' Festuca glauca 'Boulder Blue'
(Blue fescue, Gray fescue)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Regarded by some as the bluest blue fescue, this plant forms compact, cascading mounds of foot-tall, intensely blue, narrow leaves that are attractive in all seasons. Blooms are generally secondary to the foliage, but this cultivar blooms more heavily than most, with spikelets in summer. This cultivar is long-lived and very hardy. Grow in groups in a border or rock garden, or as a groundcover. 

Salvia koyamae Salvia koyamae
(Japanese yellow sage)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

At first glance, this Japanese woodland native does not look as if it belongs in a shade garden, but
I find its spreading foliage and light-colored flowers do wonderfully as a small ground cover in dry-shade areas. Creamy yellow flower spikes sporadically appear from summer to fall, but hand-size, hairy green leaves are another attraction of this plant. It contrasts well with so many other fine-textured shade perennials that the flowers can be considered just a bonus. Japanese yellow sage is not choosy about soil pH or type. The spreading stems root as they touch the ground, eventually forming large, wide clumps. You can easily transplant any piece of rooted stem to fill gaps in your shade garden. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133

x Heucherella 'Sweet Tea' x Heucherella 'Sweet Tea'
('Sweet Tea' heucherella)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Anyone who gardens in the shade is familiar with heucherella. ‘Sweet Tea’ was bred using Heuchera villosa, a native of the eastern United States, as one of its parents, which has added enough resistance to heat, drought, and humidity to make it able to handle even the extreme climate of Texas. ‘Sweet Tea’ has large, stained, orange-bronze leaves with dark burgundy veins and short spikes of small white flowers that appear in early spring. Its brightly colored foliage, however, is the main reason to have this plant. Give it well-drained soil, and lift and divide it every couple of years. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133


Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 listings   Sort By: Sort