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2 shade garden combos for hosta lovers

By: James A. Baggett
Embrace the shade with these hard-working plant combinations that feature hostas and unite shades of green in dynamic and arresting displays.

If your garden needs a boost, try these two combos: They show off hostas and other shade-loving companions beautifully.

Bruce and Linda Christensen know how to compose a view. That’s because they’ve had almost 25 years to get it right. “We purchased this property primarily because of the potential for a garden,” says Bruce of their ½-acre suburban plot in Middleton, Wisconsin. And now they have a verdant view out the back windows that looks like a well-composed work of art. Check out some of their best plant combinations — all featuring versatile hostas — that are all part of the living work of art they call their backyard.

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shade-garden-combinations-with-hostas-coleus-pedestal-combo-lettered

Add a tropical pop of color to your shade garden

Everybody has that neglected spot in the shade that needs a horticultural display to carry it through the season. A hanging basket or elevated container of an annual like the purple fan flower on the pedestal will require no deadheading and will bloom its head off until frost. Consider shade-loving annuals like coleus in containers to really fill in those gaps and elevate the ordinary to something special.

A) Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
Type Perennial Blooms Large pompons of creamy flowers (they emerge green) in late spring and throughout summer Light Part shade Size 3 to 5 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

B) Hosta (Hosta ‘El Niño’)
Type Perennial Foliage Heart-shaped powder-blue leaves with streaky white margins Light Part sun to full shade Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 28 to 36 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

C) Dwarf lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina ‘Minutissima’) 
Type Perennial Foliage Arching light green fronds form a wide clump Light Part to full shade Size 6 to 12 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8

D) Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides ‘Peter’s Wonder’)
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Foliage Toothed leaves in an array of deep violet, green and yellow Light Full sun to part shade Size 18 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

E) Fanflower (Scaevola aemula)
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Dark blue to purple fan-shaped blossoms on trailing stems throughout summer to frost Light Full sun to part shade Size 9 to 18 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

F) Bowles golden sedge (Carex elata ‘Aurea’)
Type Perennial Foliage Shimmering chartreuse grasslike leaves form dense clumps Light Part to full shade Size 18 to 30 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9


shade-garden-combinations-with-hostas-lettered

Add color to shade with foliage

By summer, plant compositions in the shade garden often primarily consist of foliage. Combine different shades of green — from bright chartreuse to dark burgundy — to create lively combinations that are both visually stimulating and eye-catching.

A) Hosta (Hosta ‘Inniswood’)
Type Perennial Blooms Lavender flowers in summer above large, puckered, chartreuse to yellow leaves with a narrow deep green margin Light Part sun to full shade Size 2 to 3 ft. tall, 2 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8

B) Hosta (Hosta ‘Guardian Angel’)
Type Perennial Blooms Purple flowers in summer above large ruffled blue-green leaves with a splash of ivory down the center Light Part sun to full shade Size 18 to 24 in. tall, 36 to 48 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

C) Coral bells (Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’)
Type Perennial Blooms Creamy dainty spikes of white flowers in summer above cinnamon-peach to burnished copper leaves Light Full sun to part shade Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

D) Japanese painted fern (Athyrium ‘Ghost’)
Type Perennial Foliage Silver-green fronds with deep purple midribs Light Part to full shade Size 18 to 24 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

E) Coral bells (Heuchera ‘Black Out’)
Type Perennial Blooms Ivory-white flowers in early summer above shiny charcoal-black green leaves Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 9 in. tall, 9 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Published: Aug. 6, 2019
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