How to Grow: Plants for Problem Places

Listen to this podcast on the best plants for clay, wet, dry or shady places in your garden.


It seems every perenDead Nettle, Lamium, Lamiaceae, Lamium Maculatumnial flower garden I visit, or grow, has some area that is a challenge. Often the solution is simply growing the right plant in the right place. So let me run through a few perennial flowers for problem places in your yard.

Most gardens have shade, but not all shade is the same. In dry shade, like under a large maple tree, try growing euphorbia, Soloman’s Seal, epimedium, lamium and repeat blooming daylilies. Of course, the more light you can give the plants, the better they’ll flower. Nothing really grows well under a low lying evergreen tree.

If you have wet shade, such as near a stream or low spot, try growing yellow rocket, yellow foxgloves, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia and black snake root.

We have a spot in our garden that gets lots of sun and dries out quickly. After much experimenting with perennial flowers, and losing some plants, we’ve found lavender, Russian sage, yarrow, echinacea and sedums grow well in this location.

Many Vermont gardens have clay soil. Although we amend our clay in the perennial flower garden religiously, it still will take years to transform it into a loamy soil. We’ve found strong rooted perennials grow best in clay. Baptisia, butterfly weed, sneezeweed, asters and culver’s root all seem to plow through the clay. These plants also break up the clay so other, weaker rooted perennials, can survive near by. Of course, there are many more flowering plants for problems places than I mentioned here and I’ve listed resources on the Vt Garden Journal web page, but you get the idea. Choose wisely and you’ll be rewarded with success.

Excerpted from the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.