Many gardeners long for colorful patio gardens or porch container arrangements but need to account for the usually part shade conditions they create. Partial shade is a versatile growing condition for small entry gardens, porch planters or patio containers. These plants mix and match well to form a beautiful container planting combination for part shade. Pleasing foliage, and bright flowers work together for eye-catching beauty even in part shade.
Perennials are best planted in the fall so they have time to settle in before the heat of summer. Early spring is the next best time to plant your perennials but this is a great time to pick them up at season-end prices.
Boxwood for Evergreen Color in Part Shade
The boxwood is a popular hedging plant, but with so many dwarf forms available they are becoming more popular as container plants. In fact, with their evergreen foliage, they can be a great backbone plant for a permanent or semi-permanent container.
Gardeners who want a large patio or porch container to serve as an entry way focal piece may consider using a boxwood as part of the container combination, and rotating other seasonal plants for color. Some dwarf forms of boxwood that may do well in a container include Jensen (Buxus sempervirens ‘Jensen’), Northstar, Suffruticosa, and Rochester.
Foxglove Plants Give Upright Accent and Color to Part Shade Planters
Foxgloves may not come immediately to mind for a part shade container combination because they are biennials; however, started plants are available at most discount nurseries or garden centers each spring. Grow your foxglove plants in part shade, with plenty of soil amendment and you’ll have attractive upright flower spikes that contrast beautifully with the green foliage of the boxwood.
Dwarf foxglove cultivars like Strawberry Foxglove or Yellow Foxglove will grow only 3′ tall and about 1′ wide . Combining these upright flowering plants with the more rounded forms of the boxwood and ligularia will create an exciting contrast.
Ligularia for Broad Foliage in Part Shade Gardens
To contrast with the small foliage of the boxwood, a great part shade plant is ligularia. Ligularia has large, broad foliage that is deeply veined and textured in appearance. While ligularia may be too large for a small container, a large planter or even small entry way garden space, could benefit from the eye-catching accent of this plant.
Ligularia usually grows anywhere from 4-6′ high and 2-3′ feet high, but the smallest cultivars of ligularia are 2 feet tall and wide. Ligularia prefers moist, rich soil and room to spread. I’ve seen a lovely combination of ligularia planted in the garden, with container plantings mixed in, that looked stunning.
Ajuga for Part Shade Ground Cover and Well-Behaved Container Plants
Ajuga spreads slowly through a part shade garden, so gardeners who want to avoid volunteer plants in their shade garden may prefer to grow ajuga in a container. That’s perfectly fine, because ajuga or bugleweed, makes an excellent ground cover for partial shade. Planted in a container combination with boxwood or foxglove, the ajuga will help hide any legginess, making the whole container look better.
Whether gardeners are trying to spruce up a part shade entry way garden, increase curb appeal with temporary container plantings on a porch or patio, or create a semi-permanent focal piece with a large container, these part shade powerhouse plants can help do the job.
What are your favorite shade perennials?