Today in the Garden Nancy Brachey shares her tips

05/24/2008 12:00 AM

05/22/2008 4:58 PM

Colorful choices for shade

While azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons produce reliable color for shady gardens in spring, gardeners still look for help in keeping these areas from being too green all summer.

Impatiens and begonias have long been top choices for this purpose, but more choices exist. Look to them to accent impatiens and begonias or to stand alone as a bright spot. Here are four good choices for planting now in warm soil:

Caladiums grow from bulbs and mix well with other short bedding plants. Depending on the variety, they bring streaks and spots of red, pink and white. The amount of bright color varies, but can be the dominant hue on a leaf with only a narrow margin of light green.

Hostas are not just green. Varieties with leaves in lemon yellow to lime green have given a fresh look to this garden favorite in recent years. Hostas mix best with themselves. An array of various light to bright colors will improve any shady corner.

Coleus. Much improved from the old days and now suited even for sun, coleus comes in a range of color choices, from pale lime green to dark purple varieties that are almost black. One or more other colors create a mosaic design that made coleus famous for decades. In other cases, a second color, such as ruby red or chartreuse green edges the margin or outlines the veins of leaves to create great patterns. Choose your coleus to complement your flower choice in impatiens and begonias.

Torenia is one of the best heat-tolerant bedding plants. It's suited for baskets, pots or flowerbeds with a bit of sun. It has received high marks for performance in studies done in places with hot summers. The flowers are blue, violet, amethyst or pink, and appear abundantly on smallish plants suited for the edge of containers or the front of beds. The flowers look a bit like snapdragons, though they don't grow in spikes. Mix beautiful blue and violet torenia with white impatiens or begonias.

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