4 Spring Flowers for Shade That I Love
Let’s talk about spring-blooming native plants that like shade, specifically those that have been catching my eye lately in our garden. With one exception, these are all plants that Midwestern gardeners should be using a lot more.
Start with Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum). We’ve only had this plant for 2 years so this is a new infatuation for me. The flowers are tiny, you really have to give them a close look to appreciate them. Plants are male or female. The male flowers have droopy yellow anthers, while the females have gray pistils.
We only have one of these plants but I already know that I require more. The one we have grows in a planter that sits on top of an old tree stump. This plant grows up to 4 feet tall in garden conditions but is usually closer to 2 feet in the wild.
The delicate blue-green foliage of Early Meadow Rue lasts throughout the growing season. It spreads by both seed and rhizome.
Great Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) is another favorite. This is just a fantastic plant. I’ve written about it before but I’m going to keep writing about it until you people start buying it in sufficient quantity.
Great Merrybells also goes by the common name of Large-Flowered Bellwort, but there is no question that Great Merrybells is a much better name – sounds like something related to hobbits. This plant slowly creates nice clumps – the bigger the clumps, the better.
It’s best feature is the droopy, twisty yellow flowers. The foliage is nice also, and will make a good groundcover with enough shade and moisture. Put it in the right spot and it won’t require any further attention.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) – need I say more? Does anyone not love Virginia Bluebells? The only downside is that it’s ephemeral, so it needs some companions like ferns that will fill in during late spring and summer.
If your Virginia Bluebells are happy, they will sow themselves around your garden, popping up wherever they will, which is not a problem because by late spring they are already withering away.
Celandine Poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) are the only plant in this post that I won’t recommend unreservedly. Still, I love this plant – the way one loves a badly behaved but beautiful child. Celandine Poppies are not Poppies – they belong to the Acanthus family. However, the flowers and fuzzy buds are certainly Poppy-like.
Celandine Poppies have one key defect: they self-sow like mad. The seeds will germinate in almost any shady spot with bare ground – which is a virtue up to a point.
The foliage will start to die back in midsummer, but may re-emerge in fall.
Are there spring wildflowers that you wish more people would grow in their gardens?