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Garden Obstacles: Shady and Moist to Wet Soil

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Most people are lucky to have full sun and a lovely, well draining, sandy loam soil. Some are given full shade and moist to wet soil but still well drained. Don't despair, there are plants to work for these conditions and they are not just green foliage, there's some color too! All of these plants will benefit from some dappled/filtered sun, especially the flowering plants. For example, Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower, will be best sited where the most sun sneaks in. The foliage only plants, like ferns, will be fine in full shade.

Spring Ephemerals

Ferns (full shade to dappled sun)

Athyrium filix-femina - Lady Fern 🦌

Onoclea cinnamomea - Cinnamon Fern 🦌

Onoclea sensibilis - Sensitive Fern 🦌

Osmunda regalis - Royal Fern 🦌

Perennials (best with some dappled sun)

Arisaema triphyllum - Jack in the Pulpit 🦌

Aruncus dioicus - Goatsbeard 🦌 🐇

Caltha palustris - Marsh Marigold 🦌 🐇

Chelone glabra - White Turtlehead 🦌

Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower🦌 🐇

Packera aurea - Golden Ragwort 🦌 🐇

Sedges (full shade to dappled sun)

Carex muskingumensis - Palm Sedge 🦌

Carex stricta - Tussock Sedge 🦌

Shrubs (best with some dappled sun)

Cephalanthus occidentalis - Buttonbush

Clethra alnifolia - Summersweet 🦌

Cornus amomum - Silky Dogwood

Itea virginica - Virginia Sweetspire 🦌

Rhododendron viscosum - Swamp Azalea

Xanthorhiza simplicissima - Yellowroot 🦌


Acer rubrum - Red Maple🦌

Betula nigra - River Birch 🦌

Nyssa sylvatica - Black Gum

Top Row: Lady Fern, Sensitive Fern, Royal Fern

Middle Row: Goatsbeard, Cardinal Flower, River Birch

Bottom Row: Buttonbush, Sweet Pepperbush (fall), Yellowroot

pics: KMS Native Plants LLC

Don't be afraid to mingle in some seasonal annuals for some additional color and texture. Wishbone Flower aka Torenia is a fantastic low-growing, floriferous, colorful ground cover to add some pop in the shade. New Guinea Impatiens also come in fantastic bright colors to brighten up a native shade garden.

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