Gardening With What You Have

Made In The Shade: 8 Annuals To Add Pizazz To Your Garden

Christine Froehlich 05/01/2019 Comments


Learning about new plants is half the fun of gardening. Shopping for them is even better - especially when the weather is rotten. Last week I took a rainy day trip to Lucas Greenhouse (one of my favorite haunts) to scope out the new stuff. The assortment of plants owner Susan Palomaki was growing in her greenhouse made my credit card itch - enough variety to delight any gardener, but the assortment of shade loving annuals truly knocked my socks off.


Especially the vines. How about this begonia for flashy foliage? This baby is a prolific climber (6-10 ft.). Grow it up a trellis or take Margaret Roach's advice in her blog ( and let it trail from a hanging basket. I think the flowers are insignificant but with splashy purple and silver markings like this, who needs them? 



 Begonia cissus discolor
rex begonia
 Begonia cissus discolor


Thunbergia is one of my favorite flowering vines because it tolerates partial shade, flowers prolifically and grows fast. I plant it in containers on my patio to mask the ugly white vinyl siding I have on my house.They produce lots of flowers, but I'm not crazy about the colors they come in - yellow, orange and white. Thunbergia 'Arizona Rose Sensation' got my attention because of the soft pink flowers it produces. What a welcome change! This one is definitely on the must have list.



Thunbergia 'Arizona Rose Sensation'

The moment I spotted this snazzy looking begonia, I knew I was taking it home. Begonia 'Canary Wings' sports eye-popping chartreuse foliage and apricot flowers. This little roundy moundy (12-18") would be perfect on it's own or in a mixed container. 


Begonia 'Canary Wings'


Angelonias are  my secret weapon  - they look delicate, but they're tough. You can grow them in full sun, but they flower just as well in partial shade. Most annuals are water hogs, but these babies don't mind being dry. They're  easy, pretty and long-lasting either in the ground or container. They come in a pleasing range of white, pink and purple shades. Angelonia 'Spreading Berry Sparkler' is a short (4-10") spreader, just the thing to add a little zing to a shady spot.


Angelonia 'Spreading Berry Sparkler'


There's no excuse for a boring shade garden if you plant coleus. Some of the new varieties are completely irresistible. They're easy to grow - give them decent soil, a little fertilizer and you're good to go.


nursery plants


Coleus 'Wedding Train' has a trailing habit - a thriller and spiller for sure. It's small, (10-12") and sports crisp vibrant foliage. Think of the fun you could have with it.


Coleus 'Wedding Train'


These sweet little (4-8") Coleus, 'Fancy Feathers Black' and 'Fancy Feathers Copper' made my heart beat a little faster. Check out those delicate leaves, have you ever seen anything cuter? 


left to right: Coleus 'Fancy Feathers Black', 'Fancy Feathers Copper'


Just think of the combinations you could come up with!


shade annuals
Coleus 'Fancy Feathers Black', 'Fancy Feathers Copper'
Begonia 'Canary Wings'


I found the next little gem when I got invited to an open house at Good Earth Greenhouse. The owner, Terri Sauerhafer is the queen of unusual plants. You can read more about her here.



good earth greenhouse


If you're looking for a blast of color, you want Coleus 'Campfire'. It had me at the burst of purple  coming from the center of that coppery foliage. According to the tag, it keeps the color in sun or partial shade (we'll see). It's fairly tall (14-28") too, just the thing to light up a dark corner of the garden. 


Coleus 'Campfire'


It has endless possibilities for sun or shade. The Nemesia 'Honey BiColor Lilac' on the left needs sun, but I couldn't resist putting together this secondary color combination.


shade combo
Left to right: Nemesia 'Honey BiColor Lilac', Hakonochloa macra 'All Gold', Coleus 'Campfire'


It's still too cold to plant any of these out yet, but that didn't stop me from loading up the car and stashing them under grow lights in the upstairs bedroom. By the time it's warm enough to plant them, I'll have all the combinations worked out!





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