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The shade challenge: colorful pots.

Often it seems that our most colorful warm-season flowers are sun worshipers. This perception can frustrate the gardener who would like to create a show-stopping effect on a shady deck or porch, or in a tree-canopied corner of a patio. A careful search of nurseries, though, will turn up a surprising variety of shade plants that make attractive and showy arrangements in containers.

Some of the most striking effects come from plants with captivating leaf markings and colorful foliage. Gray, red, and yellow foliage can be used as a stunning foil for bright flowers and lush green leaves. Textures also come into play: bold leaf shapes contrast handsomely with fine-textured foliage; strap-leafed plants add drama or soften lines.

You won't find all the plants shown here among the bedding plants. Many of them are ground covers, perennials, shrubs--even house plants. Together, they provide a long-lasting show that continues until first frost.

SHOPPING FOR SHAPES AND COLORS

At the nursery, head first for the lath houses, where you'll find most shade plants. Then take a look at the house plant and gift plant sections.

When picking plants, think of them as filling one of three roles in an arrangement: as vertical accents, as fillers for bulk and color, or as cascaders to soften edges. Examples of each of these categories are shown at left. A plant may fit into more than one category, depending on its age and size as well as those of other plants in an arrangement.

As you make selections, try them out together. Not all textures and colors are compatible. For instance, the pink of the polka-dot plant clashes with most pink impatiens.

KEEPING PLANTS IN TOP SHAPE

Since these arrangements grow in full or partial shade, you won't need to water them as often as pots in full sun. In coastal climates, large containers may need water only once a week (oftener in-inland areas). Add polymers to the soil at planting time to reduce the need for water even more. Fertilize regularly; pinch plants for bushiness.

Hardy ground covers, perennials, and shrubs will perform well for several years. Prune larger shrubs like aucuba and abutilon to keep them low; when they outgrow the pot, move them into the garden. Also trim back ground covers. Move frost-tender house plants indoors in winter, or replace them each spring along with annuals.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:gardening in shady areas
Author:Swezey, Lauren Bonar
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:393
Previous Article:Step right up ... at least for now.
Next Article:Tools for cutting flowers.
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