Belgian Nursery Blog

May 5, 2023
Shade Annuals

Annuals for Shade

When it comes to gardening, you can control just about every aspect except for one: sun exposure. Luckily, there’s a vast selection of Annuals that are just made for the shade! Belgian keeps all the Shade Annuals in Greenhouses #8 to 11 (Sun Annuals are in #12 to 20) so it’s easy to find the perfect addition to your shady sites!

What Do We Mean By “Shade” Annuals?

All plants need some level of sunlight, and many varieties can thrive with fewer hours and/or lower energy levels. These shade-loving Annuals could burn to a crisp in the hot midday sun, so give them the protection they need, especially in the afternoon, to keep them happy and healthy.

Different Levels of Shade

Yes, there are different levels when it comes to Shade; our Annual signs will indicate if the variety prefers “Full Shade” or “Shade to Part Shade”.

Part Shade = Area gets direct sun for up to half the day, preferably in the morning when the sun is weaker; light filtering through a tree canopy can be considered Part Shade

Full Shade = Shady all day with little to no sun; typically under a dense tree canopy or on the north side of a building, hedge, etc.

If your Annuals get morning sun but are in shade before 11am, or they don’t see direct sunlight until after the dinner hour (6pm) then you’ve got a Shady location. Sunlight is weaker in the morning and get stronger through the day, so east-facing locales are great for Shade Annuals.

Less Sun = Less Water (Usually)

All Annuals need deep and regular watering, especially during the summer droughts and heat waves. But since your Shady Annuals have more protection from that big glowing orb in the sky, you may find that you don’t need to water your Begonias as often as you would a Petunia. That being said, Annuals in hanging baskets, planters, window boxes, and other containers will dry out faster than those in garden beds, as will any plants that are planted near or under a tree canopy – those tree roots drink a lot of water, so check those plants often and water deeply! To reduce soil evaporation during the summer heat, water in the morning before it gets too hot; adding mulch to your garden beds will also help maintain moisture levels, which in turn keeps any available water going down to the roots.

Frost Warning!

All Annuals, including Vegetable plants, CANNOT tolerate frost or cold temperatures below 10°C! They should only be planted outside once the threat of such conditions has passed, usually around the May long weekend. If you choose to buy your Annuals early, be sure to keep them indoors and give them the light, water, and warmth that they need until it is safe to plant outside. You don’t want to risk any cold damage by relying on an unheated garage/shed, and having them under a porch roof or overhang still leaves them exposed on all other sides. Protect your investment: keep them inside.

Some of Our Favourite Shade Annuals!

Begonia – So many varieties to choose from! Non-Stops (tuberous) have huge rose-like blooms, Bada Bing/Boom (fibrous) are adorable for shady borders, or there’s trailing varieties for your hanging baskets and containers!

Boston Fern – A staple for any shady spot! The dense, arching green fronds are attractive on their own or planted in a mixed planter or basket!

Celosia – These feathery plume can actually handle either sun or shade locations, but their bright vivid colours and just perfect for brightening up shady gardens and borders!

Clover (Oxalis) – Perfect for mixed containers, whether you go for Charmed Wine (large purple shamrock foliage and creamy white blooms) or Molten Lava (smaller leaves and blooms in stunning shades of yellow and chartreuse).

Coleus – Almost too many to choose from! Known for their incredible foliage, the colours and combinations are perfect for containers and gardens – a garden bed completely filled with Coleus would be like a piece of artwork!

Fuchsia – The dangling blooms are just made for shady hanging baskets and planters, or try one of the upright varieties for the middle of a mixed container or border!

New Guinea Impatiens – Bright and vivid blooms pop against lush dark green foliage, perfect for mass planting! They can tolerate some morning sun, however they will need protection from the hot afternoon sun.

Torenia – Unique! This shade loving trailer has long tendrils of trumpet-shaped blooms in gorgeous shades of lilac or purple. Attracts pollinators!

Annual Ivy – English, German, Swedish, all perfect for trailing over container edges! Some can handle sunnier locations, too!

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