What container plants would be good to put in front of a large metal entry gate? There is very little sunlight. I would prefer something that would add color to the space.
There are some wonderful shade plants that grow well in containers as well as in the shade. Before I give a list of some of my favorites, let me tell you about a couple of my favorite practices for container gardening:
- Choose a variety of plants that include different textures and forms. I like to use an upright plant, something a little more spreading, and plants that will trail over the sides of the container all in the same container.
- Place the container in a location protected from strong wind but has plenty of air circulation. This will help with disease control.
- Leave enough space at the top of the container for a 1-2 inch layer of mulch. Mulch will help the soil stay cool, conserve moisture, and suppress weeds. Also, make sure there is still 3/4 to 1 inch of headspace between the mulch and the top of the container for growth and watering.
- Use low volume irrigation where possible. Containers filled with lots of plants can use a lot of water. It is easy to forget the water and if you have installed even a simple system attached to a hose bib with an inexpensive timer, your plants will have the water they need.
- Use sterile soil to prevent problems from insects, fungi, nematodes, insects, and weeds.
- Apply slow-release fertilizer regularly according to the label.
Here are a few of my favorite shade plants:
- Illicium floridanum or Florida Anise is a large native shrub that grows to 10 feet with interesting stinky red flowers and anise scented foliage. This is a protected species so be sure and secure from a reputable nursery.
- Loropetalum chinense is a spreading shrub that has become popularity recently. There are is several varieties, some with white blooms and many with pink, fuchsia or red flowers and foliage. The shrub will grow to 12 feet and are spreading. They may be pruned to shape.
- Tabernaemontana divaricata or Crepe Jasmine is an evergreen shrub that grows to 6 feet and bears wonderful, fragrant white blossoms. A little fast growing, but loves the shade and flowers well in the shade.
- Coleus, though we grow coleus as an annual, in frost-free zones coleus shows its true form, perennial; it tends to be very long lived if not over watered. There are many coleus cultivars with widely varying size and color. You cannot go wrong when using coleus in a shady container garden.
- Liriope species AKA border grass is a plant often planted in the sun. However, the best growth occurs in shade. Liriope is a SHADE PLANT! It does not do well in the sun. When happy, Liriope has lovely lavender flowers borne on spikes above the leaves.
These are just a few for your consideration. Visit some of my other favorite sites for a few more suggestions:
- Floridata: Plants for Shady Areas
- Shade Plants – Florida Native Plants
- North Florida Landscape Plants for Shaded Sites (Note – many of these plants grow in South Florida too!)
Thanks for your question and happy gardening,