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Sunday - June 15, 2008

From: Tallmadge, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Flowering plants for shade in Ohio
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am trying to find flowering plants I can grow in my perennial shade garden. So far I am having a difficult time except for hostas, nettle and myrtle. I need help to get my miniature lilac to bloom.


First, we hope to clarify what the plants are that are already in your perennial shade garden. Hostas are natives of Japan, China and Korea, large-leaved, beloved of snails and slugs the world over. Nettle, we're a little more puzzled over. There is Lamium maculatum (Spotted deadnettle), a herbaceous plant native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It bears a superficial resemblance to the unrelated stinging nettles, but do not have stinging hairs and so are harmless or, apparently, "dead." We trust it is the Lamium and not real stinging nettles you have in your garden. The myrtle is another question altogether. In warmer climates, there is the Morella cerifera (wax myrtle), a North American native widely used as either a shrub or small tree, but not normally hardy enough for Ohio. Then, there is Myrtus communis, a culinary herb from the Mediterranean often used in Greek food. Again, doesn't sound hardy enough to be in Ohio.

Next, before we answer your first question, let's address the lilac you want to bloom. Lilacs bloom only for a quick couple of weeks in the Spring; so, if they have already done that, you're not going to get any more blooming until next Spring. The majority of natural lilacs come from Asia. In Europe, they come from the Balkans, France and Turkey. Of course, being non-native to North America, they do not appear in our Native Plant Database, but here is a website from Gardener's Network How to Grow and Care for Lilac Bushes.

So, let's look for some plants that will flower in your shade garden in Ohio, but we're going to recommend only plants native to your area. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the use and care of plants native to North America, and also native to the area in which they will be growing. The reason for this is that native plants, being already used to the environment in which they will be asked to grow, will have less need of water, fertilizer and maintenance and more resistance to pests and diseases. First, we will go to the Recommended Species section of our website, click on Ohio on the map, and then select, separately, herbaceous perennials and shrubs for part shade (2-6 hours of sun a day) to shade (less than 2 hours of sun). You can make your own selections, adding other specifications, like the soil moisture. Fiinally, go to Suppliers, type in your city and state in the Enter Search Location box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area.

HERBS (Herbaceous perennials)

Anemone canadensis (Canadian anemone)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Campanula rotundifolia (bluebell bellflower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Delphinium tricorne (dwarf larkspur)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf coneflower)


Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

Viburnum acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum)

Anemone canadensis

Aquilegia canadensis

Campanula rotundifolia

Coreopsis lanceolata

Delphinium tricorne

Monarda didyma

Lobelia cardinalis

Rudbeckia laciniata

Physocarpus opulifolius

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Viburnum acerifolium





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