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Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips began in September 2020 as a weekly collaboration with OnRichmondHill.com. Email recommendations for future gardening tips to GardeningTipsRHGHS@gmail.com. 

Society members may click Add Comment following any article, and post comments such as adding more retrospective, agreeing with the contributor, or even suggesting a correction. 

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  • September 23, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NEW GARDEN BEDS:

    Fall is a good time to create a new garden bed. Dig up the entire area, turning over any grass or perhaps removing the grass to make more depth for what you’ll be adding. Don’t worry about big clots of soil. They’ll be broken up by the action of snow and ice which is preferable to your backbreaking effort. Put in a thick layer of compost, manure, leaf mould, or any other organic material that is available.  Mix it in if you have time.  Either way, in the spring this area will be easier to work with, and after a little bit of spring raking you can get your seeds and seedlings planted.

    TREES & SHRUBS:

    Thinking of adding a fruit tree or shrub next spring?  Start this fall.  Dig the holes for fruit trees and shrubs in the fall.  If the soil you've dug out is poor, amend it with compost and return that amended soil to the hole. Then cover the hole with boards so it won't compact during the winter.  In the spring the soil will be easier to work and you’ll be able to get a quick start on planting your trees and shrubs.

    Perhaps you have a small tree or shrub that you no longer want in its current spot.  This is the time of year to move it.  Prepare the new area, amending the soil as needed.  Then dig out the old shrub or tree, and carefully move it to the new spot. Backfill the hole as needed then take the remaining soil removed to make the new hole and use it to fill the spot from which you took the shrub or tree.

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • September 16, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have three areas around my house that just don’t get a lot of sun. Closest to the house, the plants in this area only get the sun from dawn to about 11 am. Most of the day they are in the shade caused by the shadow of the house. I have that marigolds and coleus do well there.  Indeed, the marigolds seem to do well whether they were in partial shade or full shade. I’ve learned that coleus with darker-coloured leaves will grow even with long periods of shade. I do love both plants but they are not perennials and do not grow by magic each year. 

    But other HORT members are helping me understand that these plants are relatively easy to grow every year using the same plants you planted outdoors in the summer. i.e. No need to pay more at the nursery. 

    Marigolds: The marigold flowers form seed heads which are easily harvested by pulling the seeds from the head.  After harvesting, you simply dry the seeds. I place mine on a napkin for a week indoors in an area without much light and then place them in a marked envelope that states their colour, name, and year harvested.  In the spring, I cast them into the soil once there is no frost nor forecast of fewer than 10 degrees Celsius at night.  You could also plant each seed, or group of seeds, separately.

    Coleus: Greta is one of our members that does an excellent job with propagating plants including coleus and succulents! Here’s how she propagates coleus.  Coleus is one of those summer plants that have so much variety in leaves that it doesn't matter that their flowers are small. They give a burst of colour all summer. When you would like to have more plants, cut off a long straggly branch. Snip off all the leaves except for the top 4. This green branch is put in water until it starts growing roots. At that point, it is time to give your new plant some fresh potting soil. Make sure you keep it nice and moist but do not overwater. And voila, you have a new coleus plant. That plant can remain indoors for the winter and then be taken outside in the spring.

    The photos below were taken by Greta with the first one showing a cutting in a glass of water; the next shows it with roots now in a pot of soil, and the last one shows the grown plant.
    If you are the kind of person who may forget to think about propagating plants in the fall, then at any time in the summer, get a cutting as described above and create new plants then.  Coleus does very well as delightfully coloured potted indoor plants. Those can then be your source of cuttings for future propagating purposes.

    One last tip: To make your current plant look bushier, trim it back to the first set of leaves a few weeks after planting. As it grows, there will be more branches and thus more leaves than before.

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne & Greta Van den Bossche, members of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • September 09, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For the last several years I have found that its been getting cooler by mid to late August.  But even if this year doesn’t follow that pattern, cooler weather will be coming soon.  So it’s time to get outside and prepare your garden for our upcoming Canadian winter. As you prep each month, you’ll have fond memories of the past summer and beauty, colour, and food your garden provided to you during this growing season.

    There are a lot of little tasks that need to be completed to get your garden ready for winter. Online there are lots of sites that provide to-do lists. I’ve taken several of these and put them together to form a month by month set of tasks that will benefit your garden and lawns. Fall is the  time to plant trees and shrubs, cut back perennials, remove annuals, and get your lawn healthy for next spring.  Below is a handy guide to fall clean up tasks.

    September:

    • Collect seed and herbs for drying.
    • Add compost or manure to garden beds.
    • Cover water features with netting to collect falling leaves.
    • Check houseplants that you moved outdoors for the summer for pests, then start to move the houseplants back indoors.
    • Plant spring flowering bulbs from now until mid-October.
    • Prepare some decorative pots of late growing vegetables and small branches for a fall display.
    • Clean bird feeders.
    • Clean gardening tools, then store them for the winter.
    • Bring in any clay pots.
    • Pull weeds before they go to seed to reduce the number of weeds next year.
    • Plant new trees and shrubs, giving them at least six weeks before the first frost. (In 2022, the Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests that first frost could be as early as October 3rd.) Trees and shrubs that are deprived of water now will be easily stressed in the winter so keep watering them until the ground freezes.
    • Fertilize your lawn.

    October:

    • Cut diseased areas out of perennials. Do not compost the diseased plants.
    • Dig up tender bulbs such as dahlia, canna lilies, and gladiola. Wrap them in moist material and store in a cool, dark space for the winter.
    • Clean up garden debris. Remove all vegetable plants and fallen fruit and veggies.
    • Remove dead annuals from the garden.
    • Cut back perennial foliage to discourage overwintering pests. Leave flowers with seeds for the birds.
    • Rake and compost any fallen leaves. Consider adding some of the leaves to garden beds to protect the plants while providing compost for next year.
    • Trim tall grass away from trees and corners of your home to discourage small rodents from creating nests.
    • Transplant shrubs or young trees to new locations.
    • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
    • Sharpen your lawn mower blade and pruners.

    November

    • Divide spring and summer blooming perennial plants. This could be done in October if time allows.
    • Add mulch around your rose bushes.
    • Buy bulbs to force during the winter for added colour indoors.
    • Wrap screening around fruit tree trunks to protect them from small animals.
    • Clean fallen leaves out of downspouts and gutters.
    • Turn off outside water connections. Drain garden hoses.

    December

    • Prepare and set out a few outdoor pots of dried plant materials. Or simply change up some of the décor in the ones you made for fall by adding red bows or lights
    • Start paperwhites and amaryllis indoors for winter blooms.
    • Prepare for the holidays and enjoy them.

    Article submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of Richmond HIll Garden &Horticultural Society

  • September 02, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s always nice to make a seasonal change for your gardens and front porch. Planters are a great choice.  Be sure to use a planter made from a modern substance such as fibreglass, fiberstone, or a non-porous plastic composite. These can remain safely outside over winter.  Note that terracotta or clay pots cannot be stored, nor left outdoors, for the winter.  Since they are porous and retain some moisture, they are prone to cracking because the moisture in them will freeze and expand throughout the winter  

    Many of us will simply add planters with chrysanthemums of various colours. These will look great; but, there are other choices to consider. Here are some ideas on how to make planters that will brighten those cooling fall days.

    • Fill planters with an assortment of faux pumpkins, gourds and dried fall foliage that will stay gorgeous all season long. For an extra cozy touch, nestle beautiful lanterns and faux-flame candles into the greenery, then arrange small mums and cabbage plants around the base.
    • For a different look, you can combine different plant textures in your planter. Flowers won’t last long so make your planters look great for the entire season by choosing fall container plants with foliage that looks lovely in autumn. Grasses, kale, Heuchera, and Heucherella are colourful, textural, and can take a little frost. These will make dependable anchors for fall pots. FYI: Heuchera is an evergreen perennial plant in the family Saxifragaceae, all native to North America. Common names include alumroot and coral bells. Heucherella is also an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the family Saxifragaceae. It is a cross between two distinct genera, Heuchera and Tiarella.

    • For fall containers, you could also try some of these cold-hardy perennials: Sedum, Grasses, Smokebush, Lamb's ear, Ivy, Creeping Jenny, or Hens and Chicks.
    • Of course, as the Holiday season gets closer you might consider starting a taller planter with birch bark limbs. Then add evergreen branches of various kinds to give different shades of green.  You could add a few ornamental grasses or simply a few long twigs from various plants – maybe a few pussy willow branches which you can usually find in a small grove or trees.  Of course, I’d be prone to add a red bow and a realistic-looking cardinal ornament.

    Have fun with this project; you’ll enjoy the results.  And if you don’t love what you make, then change, remove, or replace something in it. You can change it up as often as you wish!

    PS: I’ve added photos of some of these container plants that you may not know a lot about: Heuchera, Heucherella, Blue Sedum, Pussy Willows.

    Article by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society.

  • August 26, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Have a large area with all the same flower? 
    You can simply work the ground around your favourite plant.  Then shake the plant so that the seeds fall down on the ground.  Mix them into the soil for the best start.  Either way, you’ll have some great plants the next spring.  I’d suggest this method if you have an area where you grow lots of the same plant each year.

    Want to control which flower and colour of flower grows where? 
    In this case, I’d suggest you harvest the seeds directly from each plant and plant colour.  I do this with nasturtiums and marigolds.  I love those 2 plants but I want to ensure that they have lots of room to grown and I like to grow them in a pattern at the edges of my garden.  Thinking of Marigolds, I simply gather up some dead heads in which the seeds appear ready.  I gather 1 colour group at a time.  Then I pull out the seeds or knock them out with my knuckle into a small paper bag or envelope.  At this point I label the bag stating the name of flower, its variety if applicable, colour of the flower, and that date/year the seeds were harvested.  Then I move to the next colour of that flower and repeat the process.  When done with all the colours of the flower, I move on to the next flower and each of its colours.  I then let them dry out in their open bags indoors and seal them once they are ready to store for the winter.

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • August 05, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Making your own insecticide is less expensive and you can be sure you are not adding harmful chemicals to the environment.

    Insecticidal Soap. Easy and inexpensive to make.  Use ordinary all-soap dishwashing liquid.  Ivory is a good choice and many prefer Dawn.  Do not use detergents.  Check the label as many dish soaps now contain a lot of additives including Oxi-clean which is great on stains but not needed for an insecticide.

    Add 1 tablespoon  (15 ml) or soap to 1 gallon (4 litres) of water and spray everything.  It won’t hurt the lawns, the foliage, nor the flowers.  And it works.  I’ve used it to wipe out all sorts of bothersome pests.  This actually helps clean up your garden in more than one way.  The spray upsets the innards of the local insect population but it also cleans off pollutants from the surfaces of the plants.

    Other Insecticides

    • Used cooking water from asparagus kills bad nematodes and protects the roots and leaves of tomatoes. 
      Notes: Bad nematodes can cause issues with your vegetables and fruit trees. These include: Root knot nematode, Root lesion nematodes, Dagger nematodes, and Ring and spiral nematodes.  There are also beneficial nematodes which you should mix with water and spray into your lawn to kill off grubs! 
    • Antifungal garlic/onion spray will help control disease and insect pests. Try the following:  Add either 2 handfuls of chopped green onions or 4 cloves or garlics – smashed up a bit - to boiling water.  Do not put a lid on the water. Boil for 5 minutes the add ½ cup (125ml) of this onion/gardlic water to 5 gallons (*20litres) of a good fertilizer to make a “fertilizer tea” which can be sprayed on your plants.
    • Attract Beneficial Insects. Some insects are beneficial to the health of your plants. Examples include ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and lacewing flies.  You want to attract these insects to your garden so they can help control insects for you. They will be attracted to your garden if you spray your plants with the following. Mix 2 Tablespoons of brewer’s yeast, ¼ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of honey, and 1/3 cup of warm water. Mix the ingredients together.  To use, take 1 tablespoon of your mixture add it to 2 cups of water and use that to spray the plants in spring and early autumn to attract the beneficial bugs. 
    • Slugs. To kill slugs, you can also use the “attracting” spray mixture just mentioned. Set it out in small containers on the ground to attract slugs which will drink it then die.  
    Article by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society.
  • July 29, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Perhaps you'll find this brief list of gardening "To Do's" for August of interest. It may help you get some tasks accomplished before the larger tasks for fall!

    Protect Tomatoes: As evenings become cooler, tender plants like tomatoes may need protective covers to buy them more time to mature.

    Water according to need.  It’s common for August to be a dry month. Be sure to keep an eye on your plants. When you don’t get enough rain, be sure to supplement by watering your plants deeply once per week.

    Strawberries
    Step 1 - Thin Out Strawberries: Strawberries will reproduce quickly. Sometimes the beds of berries can become overcrowded. If your berries have stopped producing, then it is time to prune the runners. Pruning will help them to look better and stay healthy. This will thin out the strawberries; but, you may also wish to remove certain plants and toss them into the compost, or transplant the overcrowded strawberries into a second bed or give the plants to a friend or neighbour so that they too can have fresh berries next year.  BTW: The removal of old canes is something you should also do with raspberries as the weather cools.
    Step 2 - Weed and Mulch:  It is also time to take care of your strawberry beds. Be sure to remove any weeds which may have moved into the beds. Once all the weeds have been removed, cover the strawberry plants with a thick layer of mulch. Mulch will insulate the plants and protect the soil during the winter.

    Save Seeds: A lot of your veggies are ready to harvest this month. So it is time to begin collecting tomato, pepper, and zucchini seeds for next year’s planting. By saving seeds, you not only get the desired varieties and plants you want, but you also save money. Simple remove the seeds when you harvest these plants and place them on paper towel to dry out.  Once dry, put each variety and type of seed into small plastic or paper bags labelled with plant type, variety, colour or fruit/veggie, and date harvested. 

    Remove Dead Crops: As the seasons prepare to change, the summer garden will inevitably end. The plants will begin to die off and stop yielding any produce.  Now is the time to pull up the dead annual plants and plant a cover crop such as oats, barley, wheat, and rye. The cover crop will help protect your soil from the harsh elements of winter.  In the spring you will have to rototill those cover crops into the ground to add their nutrients to the soil. Alternatively, you may wish to cover your beds with straw for the winter.  For perennial flowers, you should consider waiting another month before cutting off the dead foliage.

    Bonus – Plant Some More Vegetables in August: Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, mustard, as well as radishes, turnips, beets, and carrots can all be started from seeds in August and still be harvested this year.  Indeed, some of these will still thrive through the first frost or light snow!

    Article by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society.

  • July 22, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When I wander around in the nurseries, I see so many creative garden ideas and such wonderful looking pots and planters. Some years ago, my older son, 16 at that time, thought it would be better to have a sidewalk go from the side of the house to the patio then out to the pool. So, we built one! Turns out making a cement flower planter is a very similar process and it is a lot easier!  Yet it is something you can do on a weekend with your family.

    The materials needed are easy to get and the cost is minimal. You can even use old items from your house or garage. And the results can be as varied as your imagination. Best thing – if it turns out a little wonky, turn the bad side away so most won’t even know it is there.

    Concrete works well even in a natural garden. We have stepping stones and a sidewalk in, or near, our flower gardens. So why not a cement flower planter?  They also add interest. Cement is fairly easy to work with; but be sure to wear plastic gloves to save your nails. And take off rings, watches, and Fitbits. You can make your planters almost any size. 

    Materials

    • Two (2) bowls, planters, or hanging baskets. One must be slightly larger than the other.
    • Quick setting concrete (it dries faster). Quikrete is the one I’ve used.
    • Optionally, Quikrete Liquid Cement Colour, if you wish to colour your cement.
    • A bucket and long handled trowel or shovel.
    • Water.
    • Spatula or long piece of dowel of ¼” to ½” diameter.
    • A hand saw to cut short pieces of dowel if you choose to make drainage holes with them. Otherwise, you will need a drill and a cement bit to allow you to successfully drill into cement to make the drainage holes.
    • Some cooking oil and Pam cooking spray.
    • Optionally cement seal.

    Directions:

    What to make a form from. Let’s consider making a medium sized planter as our first one.  First, you need a form.  A form is something to pour the cement into to keep the shape you want. You may think “how is the cement going to stay on the sides of the eventual bowl?”  Good question – the answer is using a second smaller form of the same or similar shape. You are going to “squeeze” the cement between them leaving what will become the thickness of your bowl.

    For your first attempt, plastic containers of the same shape make a perfect start. Two hanging planters of different sizes will make a great shape as well.  Let’s say you decide to use 2 mixing bowls.  Mine came as a set of 3.  I’ll choose the largest one and the smallest one to get the thickness I want for the bottom and sides of the planter.  You could also use any Tupperware, empty food containers. As long as you have 2 of them, 1 slightly smaller than the other.  Lengths of plywood that are screwed together to make forms allow for larger, more interesting shapes such as squares, rectangular, octagons, etc. If you wood is taller, then you could also make taller planters in these shapes. Bottom line: It’s your planter and your decision.

    Prepare your forms.  It is important to prepare your forms so you can separate the concrete from the forms easily. Coat each form with cooking oil. Completely cover the inside of the larger form and the outside of the smaller one. The cement will be between them. You may also choose to line them with aluminum foil and spray them with “Pam” or something similar. Taking time to do this thoroughly will ensure you can get your planter out of its form with ease.

    Now you need to make the cement.  Of course, quick setting concrete will get your project finished more quickly but you can also use standard cement. I’d suggest a bucket or wheelbarrow in which to mix the cement powder, as well as a ready water source. Now would be the time to colour your cement if that interests you. You can add a bit of acrylic or latex paint to the cement or try QUIKRETE Liquid Cement Colour. Simply drop some into the cement you are making.  Now mix the concrete well until creamy and thick and the colour, if used, is evenly distributed.

    Put the cement into the form.  For concrete flowerpots, add a generous amount of concrete to the larger form until filled about halfway up. Then construct your drainage holes by coating short dowels (the height of the thickness of cement that will be between your form pieces) with petroleum jelly and pushing them into the cement in the bottom of the larger bowl before you put the smaller bowl into the cement that’s in your larger bowl. If you prefer, you can forget the holes at this point. But this means you will need to drill them through your new planter once it has cured. Now place the smaller form into the concrete of the larger one, which will push the excess cement up the sides between your forms. Some may overflow. Use that excess to fill between the 2 forms ensuring there are no gaps and that the top lip of the bowl is smooth.  You can use a wooden stick (or handle of a long spatula or length of dowel) to push out air bubbles as you push the small bowl into the bigger one.

    Curing your planter.  At this point you need to let your cement planter cure. This is the time to clean your tools! Wash your bucket or wheelbarrow, your spatula, shovel and your gloves. Wash down everything that has wet cement on it – except your planter of course although you may choose to wipe off the inside of the smaller bowl and the outside of the bigger bowl.  If your tools dry with cement on them, they are unlikely to be usable for your next project.

    In about 18 hours, you can remove the inner form and the dowels if used. Wait 24 more hours before removing the outer form. To keep the colouring of your cement planter natural you may choose to coat your new planter with masonry seal. This is optional.

    After a few of these, you will be ready to move on to larger cement planters, various planter shapes, and colours!  And remember your “form” materials can all be reused.

    Enjoy while adding interest to your gardens!

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • July 15, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Health Canada has information, regulations, and guidelines for pesticide use. They also have helpful information on the risks of using Herbicides. This list regarding pesticides was compiled by Sally Hossain, a Master Gardener in our Society, of Canadian sites that discuss alternatives to the chemicals our parents had access to when we were kids.  Those product brands are still available but without the “harsher” chemicals that did the job. But of course, those chemicals caused environment issues and the newer formulas do not.

    Below is a list of links and topics to effectively handle pests and weeds without creating more environmental concerns.

    • Pesticides and food safety. Information that ensures you are safe if you grow or buy foods treated with pesticides!  Use this link 
    • The Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is responsible for pesticide regulation in Canada. Created in 1995, this branch of Health Canada consolidates the resources and responsibilities for pest management regulation. Read what your government is doing for you. Link.  
    Our Ontario Horticultural Association (OHA) governs all Garden and Horticultural Societies in Canada.  At the bottom of their Resources page (https://gardenontario.org/resources/) there are links to many interesting sites.  Here are a few but you may want to check out the Invasive Plant information as well:

    ·        Canada’s Plant Hardiness Site  This site explores the relationship between plants and climate across Canada. One portion of the site is dedicated to zone maps showing plant hardiness.
    ·        Environment Canada  This site is a comprehensive source of information related to the environment and the weather.
    ·        Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) 
    This government ministry is responsible for the food, agriculture, and rural sectors of Ontario.  Within the OMAFRA site, there is also some good information.

    • Type “Weed Killers” in the search window of the OMAFRA site and you’ll find some interesting articles on weeds including their ability to be resistant to herbicides as well as help to identify the type of weed you have.
    • The Online Gardener's Handbook 2010, Chapter 2: Integrated Pest Management. Pesticides in an Integrated Pest Management Approach.  BTW: Chapter 7 talks about lawns. Link here.
    Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is responsible for administering the Pest Control Products Act on behalf of the Minister of Health. The Pest Control Products Act regulates the products used for the control of pests.  Link here.  You may want to read about the sections on Pesticides for Lawn Care and Minimizing Your Risks:  Use this link to then go to the sections of interest to you.   

    Article by Sally Hossain, Master Gardener with copy editing by Doreen Coyne. Both are members of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society.

  • July 08, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have three areas around my house that just don’t get a lot of sun. You’ve read last week’s Gardening Tip on Perennials for Semi-Shaded areas which work well in my front semi-shaded garden.  Now we’ll look to help out the two areas that are in all but complete shade.

    My North-West facing side garden.  You’d think this area should get a lot of sun from the west; but, the shape of the house prevents that and leaves this little garden in the shade all of the time.  A few years ago I found that hostas do quite well in semi-shaded areas so I added a couple of hosta here as well. I put one beside the walkway to my backyard which is in this shaded areas and surrounded by 6 foot high fences. The hosta is now something to behold spreading its medium-green leaves out so that the plant’s diameter is some four feet across.  I tried some coleus; they work well but are annuals and I do prefer perennials.

    My South facing side yard. That area is my biggest problem. I haven’t had a solution to date so it is filled with black mulch which looks great and many visitors don’t even know the area exists. Why?  Because it is bordered on the south by a 6 foot tall fence with my neighbours’ tree branches overhead. And another 6 foot fence divides the yard into two sections with one half in the front yard and the other in the backyard. Needless to say, the area is almost 100% shaded by the neighbour’s house, the fences, and the overhanging tree branches. My interim solution of covering the soil with black mulch works and minimizes weeds.  But I wouldn’t mind a few actual plants in those 2 areas.

    My gardens each need plants that like “the dark”; so, I’ve been reading a lot to find some more plants – especially perennials – that would love a home in a garden that may never have full sun.  I found a few to consider – here’s what I’ve learned to date.

    • Astilbe flowers can be recognized by their tall, fluffy plumes that tower above frilly, fern-like foliage in the shade garden. Although the plants grow in shade, their flowers are more productive in an area where gentle morning or dappled sun can reach them for about an hour or two. So at the east and south most ends of that area may be ok for these as the ends do get a couple of hours of sunlight each.
    • Bee balm plants prefer moist, rich soil, and a sunny location but can tolerate shade, particularly in hot-summer areas. Plant it in any protected spot where colour is a bonus. These may not work for me, but perhaps you have an area with moist, rich soil and a bit more sun.
    • Bleeding Heart plants like to be planted in organic soil in shady or partially shaded areas. You need to work compost into the area before planting the bleeding heart plant in the fall or spring. An herbaceous perennial, the bleeding heart plant dies back to the ground as the heat of summer arrives. As the plant begins to yellow and wither away, foliage may be cut back to the ground as a part of care for a Bleeding Heart. Do not remove the foliage before it turns yellow or brown; this is the time when your bleeding heart plant is storing food reserves for next year’s growing bleeding hearts. I didn’t know that so when mine “died” last year, I threw it out. It had been a test plant so I know it did fine until August.  This year, I’ll remember it is a perennial and not remove it when it dies back.
    • Bellflowers are said to be shade plants but it seems there are so many varieties, that one needs to determine the best type for their garden as the bellflower is quite diverse. Some cultivars (a specific cultivation of a variety) will bloom all summer long, some will make excellent cutting flowers, and others can get invasive and take over the garden.  A trip to the nursery should help me select one variety that may serve my south and north-west gardens.
    • Begonias love shade or morning light with afternoon shade.  I’ll add some to my hanging baskets at the front of the house that is in a shaded area. Begonias add a wonderful splash of colour to the greenery. 
    • To those baskets above, I’ve also added coleus. Ones with darker leaves are great in hanging flower baskets in shaded areas as well. 
    • Delphiniums like a gentle morning sun with afternoon shade. They don’t tolerate extreme differences in temperatures. Last fall I purchased 3 of these and planted each one if a different spot that I thought would provide them with the sunlight they preferred. It was September when I planted them and they continued to grow and bloom. So that was a good sign.  This spring only two of them grew again and they look good.  The one I put in the front yard has wonderful light purple flowers and the one in the back has blue and white flowers. Each has needed “something to lean on” to keep them tall and elegant which is expected with Delphiniums.  But they are more of a semi-shaded area plant and luckily they are getting enough sun in the areas I  planted them in! But note, they are not full shade plants!
    • Ferns are woodland plants that loves to grow under the trees in shade.  I’ve started to use baskets of these on my front porch as 2 of 4 shaded hanging flower baskets this year. They are doing very well.
    • Foxglove flowers grow on stems which may reach 6 feet (2 m.) in height, depending on the variety. Foxglove flowers are clusters of tubular-shaped blooms in colours of white, lavender, yellow, pink, red, and purple. Growing foxgloves thrive in full sun to partial shade to full shade, depending on the summer heat. I don’t have these this year but will try them next year.
    • Hellebores can bloom in late winter to early spring, sometimes while the ground is still covered with snow. Different varieties come in a range of flower colours, from white to black. Note, all parts of the hellebore plant are poisonous, so take care to keep children and pets away; but, they do prefer to grow in filtered sun or a shady location.
    • The Forget-Me-Not flower grows on tall, hairy stems which sometimes reach 2 feet (61 cm.) in height. The flowers have 5 petals and typically blue blooms with a yellow centre.  They bloom from May to October which to me means it is a keeper. They like moisture and are self-seeding. That translates to ensuring you remove them from areas where do not want them each year. But they do grow well in a damp, shady area. I’m going to try these in my south side garden next summer. But just not sure they can be in complete shade.  So I’ll try one in my shaded areas and one in my semi-shaded areas.
    • I wrote about Jacob’s Ladder in last week’s article.  They don’t mind a fully shady area. I will be looking for some of these to plant in the south side gardens to see how well they do in complete shade.

    A lot of us have areas of shade, some semi-shaded/partial-sun areas, and some full sun areas.  When you are searching for plants for a specific garden area, take note of its sun conditions. Then test that against what you see on websites. Many list lots of plants as shade-loving plants but in researching each one, many of them need at least partial sun to survive. So not for you if you have full sun or full shade garden spot.

    Bottom line, be sure you know how much sun each area of your garden gets so you can select the right plants for it.

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

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