DRY SHADE: The Quiet Killer
A guide to coping

Dry shade. This common garden predicament claims countless innocent victims every year. It’s one thing when a marauding critter (be it rabbit, gopher, deer or dog) claims a plant, but dry shade is a slow death – a loss felt over weeks or months that results in gardening malaise and abnormal resistance to the joy of Spring Fever. It’s easy to get upset about the loss when a marauding critter gobbles your plants, but dry shade is a slow burn that drags on and on. A perfectly healthy plant will go into the ground, wither, dwindle and even die.

The trouble with gardening in dry shade is that you’re fighting nature. Plants need a few basics to live, and among these, water and light rank pretty darn high, so if you limit both in the extreme? Well, you do the math.

The good news is that there you can overcome this gardener’s bane in ways that don’t involve the slaughter of well-loved established trees or the demolition of your house. There are many plants that can tolerate dry shade - you just have to follow some basic guidelines.

Dry Shade Death
Melianthus_major
Aristea ecklonii
Euphorbia 'Blue Haze'
Claytonia sibirica
Senecio 'Giovanna's Selection'
Iris confusa

FIRST and most importantly, be reasonable! Remember that a plant growing in dry shade is going to behave differently than one with more light and water. Here are a few other tips to help you along:

1. Choose the right plant! Find plants that work in dry shade and *your* work will be reduced many times over. Stick to TOUGH plants and particularly those that can deal with root competition. We have a comprehensive list on our website of plants that are dry-shade tested.

2. PREPARE! If you're biggest problem is clay or tree roots, carefully dig out a 12" x 12" hole for each plant and amend your soil with a good quality planting mix (available at independent garden centers). Giving your new plants proper space to get established will prepare them better for tolerating root competition down the road.

3. WATER! Even though a plant may be great for dry shade, it still needs to be watered until established. So keep an eye on that new baby until it can tolerate longer periods of dryness. If you see wilting, water it. Bear in mind that special rules apply for dry shade under oak trees, as Summer water for oaks is a big no-no.

Keckiella cordifolia
Keckiella cordifolia

Have you grown any of our plants in dry shade with fantastic results? We’d love to know! We grow such a huge variety of new things that sometimes information such as dry shade tolerance (or deer resistance, or rabbit resistance, or etc.) is an unknown. We love getting feedback about how some of these new introductions perform under duress.

Salutations to all you dry shade gardeners, troopers that you are! We hope to help all of you make scintillating gardens of all kinds even in the toughest places.

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Annie's Annuals & Perennials
801 Chesley Ave. Richmond, CA, 94801
(888) 266-4370