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Container Planting for Shade

Container Planting for Shade

Posted by Grange Co-op on 19th May 2020

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If your home or planting beds are in the shade for significant portions of the day, don’t be fooled into believing growing a beautiful flower and plant arrangement will be difficult. Rather, on the contrary, shade often provides an ideal environment for many different and unique varieties of plants that cannot survive in the intense summer heat.

Grab your gardening supplies and join Grange Co-op Gardening Expert Kraig Rucker as he discusses container planting for shade. Click the video above or continue reading as we share some of our best practices and success tips specifically for plants that prefer shade to thrive and grow healthy.

Planting Prep

If you are using a pot to plant in, its important before placing your plants in it, to lay down a soil base that will sustain and support the plants you choose. We recommend using G&B Organics Blue Ribbon Blend Potting Soil as the ideal soil for potted plants. Depending on how large of a pot you’re using, fill with the soil of your choice 1/3 to ½ of the way full. Compress with your hands to create a solid base. This will help keep the plants in place, as opposed to sinking down once you begin watering.

Featured Plant Varieties in this Arrangement

Elephant Ears (Colocasia)

The plants highlighted in our video are plants that prefer shade to part sun. The large purple leafed plant is an Elephant Ear. “Elephant ears” is the common name for a group of tropical perennial plants grown for their large, heart-shaped leaves. Most of these herbaceous species in the arum or aroid family (Araceae) that are offered as ornamentals belong to the genera Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma, although there are others that have similar appearance and growth habits. The first two genera are native to tropical southern Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea, parts of Australia, or the Pacific Islands, while Xanthosoma is native to tropical America. Use elephant ears to add a bold, tropical look to the landscape in borders, mass plantings or in containers. These fabulous foliage plants add dramatic contrast with both the size and color of the leaves and their form. They combine well with other tropical plants such as bananas, castor bean, colorful caladiums, Chinese hibiscus and mandevillea, but they also provide wonderful textural contrast with more typical temperate bedding plants, ferns, or ornamental grasses.

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

One of the most versatile perennials you can grow are Coral Bells (Heuchera). Ideally, coral bells prefer partial shade and average moisture levels. There are many kinds of coral bells available today, if you’re wondering which are best for your climate? -- Here is a hint: feel the leaves before you buy. If you live in a part of the country that is relatively cool and dry (low humidity levels), those varieties with thinner, shinier leaves should grow best. Alternatively, if you live where it is relatively warm and sticky (high humidity levels), those varieties with larger, fuzzier leaves should grow better for you. Both shiny leaf and fuzzy leaf coral bells are available in a broad range of colors to suit your gardening palette. In this video we have a vibrant lime green variety to contrast with the darker colors of the Elephant Ear plant.

Ivy Geranium (Pelargonium Peltatum)

Commonly known as ivy leaf, trailing, or cascading geraniums, these fast growing and brightly colored, geraniums are perfect for both large potted plant arrangements, as well as many hanging basket arrangements. An herbaceous perennial native to South Africa, P. peltatum was introduced to the cool climates of Holland and England by 1704. Five-lobed leaves similar in shape to that of ivy, some varieties have variegated foliage with flowers that bloom in shades of apricot, burgundy, lavender, orange, pink, purple, red, and white. With prolific growth patterns, ivy geraniums have a dramatic spread, blooming all summer long in cascades of vibrant color. Contrary to zonal or hybrid geraniums, ivy geraniums prefer shade, making it the perfect addition to our plant arrangement.

Black Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas)

One of the most versatile plants available, sweet potato vines are trailing plants, loved for their colorful chartreuse, purple, bronze, copper, or black foliage. And because its beauty comes from the foliage, you can enjoy sweet potato vine all season long without worrying about whether it's going to go in and out of bloom. Sweet potato vines come in many different varieties, some are compact, perfect for hanging baskets and window boxes; while other larger varieties are outstanding in large containers or as an annual groundcover. Along with the other plants used in this video, when growing in containers, be sure the pots have drainage to allow excess water to escape. When it's happy, sweet potato vine can be a vigorous grower, especially old-fashioned varieties that can grow quite large. Don't be afraid to prune or clip back the plant whenever it seems to get out of bounds.

Tuberous Begonia (Begonia boliviensis x hybrid)

Tuberous begonias are popular for their beautiful flowers that come in a variety of colors and forms. Red, orange, yellow, white, salmon and pink blooms may be single or double and may be plain, ruffled or toothed. Their petals may have margins, crests or blotches of contrasting color. Tuberous begonias bloom throughout the summer, thriving in shady spots where few other plants with long bloom periods and showy flowers can grow. They are often used as container plants on patios and porches, in hanging baskets, and as bedding plants. The most vigorous trailing begonia on the market, Million Kisses is easy to grow with better branching and many early, large flowers and is also the variety used in our plant arrangement.


Once you have arranged and placed all your plants in the pot, back-fill with additional soil, then water thoroughly with an all-purpose fertilizer. We recommend G&B Organics All Purpose Liquid Fertilizer (3-2-3) a 100% certified organic fertilizer that promotes a healthy soil structure resulting in lush, full plant growth. G&B All Purpose Fertilizer is designed to provide faster, more balanced nutrients for a wide variety of flowers and plants.

Thank you to our GrangeGardening Expert, Kraig, for his educational video. For more tips and recommendations, visit our GrangeKnows page online or in store and happy planting!