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10 Combinations for Shade

The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots

Fine Gardening - Issue 129

When it comes to gardening, shade is a lot like a rainstorm at a picnic: It isn’t in your ideal plan, but you have to make the best of the situation. Believe it or not, I actually prefer to garden in the shade because it takes more thought and creativity to combine plants successfully. We all know that the key to combinations that work is how we use color, texture, and form.


Combo #1

  1. ‘Nikko’ deutzia (Deutzia crenata var. nakaiana ‘Nikko’, Zones 4–8)
  2. ‘Othello’ ligularia (Ligularia dentata ‘Othello’, Zones 4–8)
  3.  ‘Sagae’ hosta (Hosta ‘Sagae’, Zones 3–9)
  4. ‘Mt. Fuji’ Japanese iris (Iris ensata ‘Mt. Fuji’, Zones 3–9)
  5. ‘Spectabile’ knotweed (Polygonum ‘Spectabile’, Zones 5–9)
  6. Purple perilla (Perilla frutescens ‘Atropurpurea’, annual)


Combo #2

  1. ‘Ice Dance’ variegated sedge (Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ , Zones 5–9)
  2. Hosta (Hosta cv., Zones 3–9)
  3. ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ boxleaf honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’, Zones 6–9)
  4. ‘Yoshino’ Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’, Zones 6–9)
  5. Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’, Zones 2–6)
  6. ‘Anceps’ fountain bamboo (Fargesia nitida ‘Anceps’, Zones 5–9)

Combo #3

  1. ‘Yellow Wave’ phormium (Phormium ‘Yellow Wave’, Zones 8–10)
  2. Spider flower (Cleome hassleriana cv., annual)
  3. Purple perilla (Perilla frutescens ‘Atropurpurea’, annual)


Combo #4

  1. ‘Silver Sceptre’ sedge (Carex morrowii ‘Silver Sceptre’, Zones 5–9)
  2. Japanese tassel fern (Polystichum polyblepharum , Zones 6–8)
  3. Fastigiate plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’, Zones 6–9)


Combo #5

  1. Korean boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana, Zones 4–9)
  2. Hosta (Hosta cv., Zones 3–9)
  3. Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides, Zones 3–8)
  4. ‘Mister Big’ hosta (Hosta ‘Mister Big’, Zones 3–9)

Combo #6

  1. ‘Seiryu’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’, Zones 5–8)
  2. Glade fern (Diplazium pycnocarpon, Zones 3–8)
  3. Hosta (Hosta cv., Zones 3–9)


Combo #7

  1. ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Zones 5–9)
  2. Fairy bells (Disporum flavens, Zones 4–9)
  3. ‘Great Expectations’ hosta (Hosta ‘Great Expectations’, Zones 3–9)


Combo #8

  1. Dinosaur kale (Brassica oleracea ‘Nero di Toscana’, annual)
  2. Threadleaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii , Zones 5–8)
  3. ‘Choo Choo Train’ hosta (Hosta ‘Choo Choo Train’, Zones 3–9)
  4. ‘Baby Sister’ iris (Iris ‘Baby Sister’, Zones 3–9)
  5. My Monet™ weigela (Weigela florida ‘Verweig’, Zones 5–8)

Combo #9

  1. Purple perilla (Perilla frutescens ‘Atropurpurea’, annual)
  2. Mrs. Robb’s bonnet (Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae, Zones 6–9)
  3. ‘Elegans Aurea’ Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans Aurea’, Zones 6–9)
  4. ‘Fortunei Albomarginata’ hosta (Hosta ‘Fortunei Albomarginata’, Zones 3–9)
  5. ‘Snow Queen’ oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’, Zones 5–9)


Combo #10

  1. ‘Painter’s Palette’ knotweed (Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’, Zones 5–9)
  2. ‘Ice Dance’ variegated sedge (Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’, Zones 5–9)
  3. Giant wood fern (Dryopteris goldieana, Zones 6–8)
  4. Purple perilla (Perilla frutescens ‘Atropurpurea’, annual)

View Comments


  1. user7391528 10/03/2019

    There's kind of a lot of errors on this page. Can someone review it? I would like to actually know what some of these plants are and they are not labeled in every pic. Thanks.

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