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Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 8: The Best of the Best Shade Plants

These plants prove that the darkest corner of the garden can be incredibly interesting

Come take a walk on the darker side of the garden with us, where we discuss plants for shade that are just as stunning as their sun-loving cousins. We go beyond hostas and heucheras and delve into options that are a bit odder. (Full disclosure: We do talk about one particularly interesting hosta.) These plants are sure to make your shade shimmer.

Expert: Richard Hawke, plant evaluation manager for the Chicago Botanic Garden.



When you think of shade plants, you might think of hostas right away. But ‘Curly Fries’ (Hosta ‘Curly Fries’) really doesn’t look like any hosta you’ve ever seen before.

Danielle is a big fan of poker primrose (Primula vialii), and it reminds her of something from outer space. Listen to find out why Steve can’t stop laughing at her description of this weird-looking perennial.

Despite the fact that Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatum’) is a somewhat common plant, Richard Hawke of the Chicago Botanic Garden always finds a spot for it in his shade gardens.

Steve nearly passed out from excitement when he first saw ‘October Moon’ Japanese shrub mint (Leucosceptrum stellipilum ‘October Moon’)–yet another example of plants being potentially hazardous to your health.

Stylish Shady Containers



View Comments


  1. user-42867 07/27/2017

    Primrose is the only one I could have in my sandy shade. Deer have eaten the others. Really like the poker Primrost. Will have to try it.

  2. JaneEliz 09/13/2017

    I got Hosta 'Curly Fries' this year and love everything about it-color, size and, of course, the curls. Poker Primrose is a beaut! I've tried it several times but it has not made it through the winter in my z.5 Me. garden. I've also heard that it needs lots of space around it-difficult in my closely planted garden. What zone is October Moon? Lovely leaf.

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