Golden Yellow Ground Cover for Shade

February 26th, 2008

Heuchera CitronelleI have a beautiful laceleaf japanese maple with crimson foliage in a shady corner of my yard, and by shady I mean, really shady. It is in a corner between my shed and a large spruce, so that it literally gets 0 sun, except maybe around the Summer Equinox it might get a little. Anyways, despite having hundreds of pictures of my garden, apparently I lack even a single one of this nook that is in focus. So, I couldn’t include a picture of it for this post. (I included one of my options for planting there instead, read below).

Anyways, I’m a big fan of using contrasting foliage colors when laying out my gardens, and so I’ve always wanted a yellow or golden ground cover (or other short plant) to go underneath the tree. The yellow ground cover would contrast with the red leaves, making them see all the more redder (making them “pop” if you will) and vice versa.

One problem with variegated or oddly-colored (not green) plants though is that their coloring can be affected by sun exposure. Some plants are green in the shade and only get their color in the sun, others have color in the shade but “green out” when exposed to sunlight.

Currently I have a few heucherella ‘Sunspot’ but it would appear this heucherella needs a little sun to get it’s full color, as it is a drab green for me in that deep shade.

I have thought about getting a hosta, but.. in addition to contrasting foliage colors I also like to do shapes and sizes and I already have some hostas ringing that bed. Still, Hosta “Little Sunspot” looks good, and I know hostas will show their interesting color in deep shade (sun greens them out), but I’m not 100% sure about it. If anyone knows a small narrow-leaved golden yellow hosta, please comment. All the hostas around the bed currently have normal heart-shaped leaves, so a narrow-leaved one would still contrast and look good.

If it were a sunny location I would just use ‘Creeping Jenny’ aka moneywort aka Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’. This is a vibrant yellow, fast growing (almost invasive) easy to replicate, cheap, ground cover. Alas, it needs sun to achieve the right banana yellow hue I am after.

In my scan of gardening catalogies I saw a plant I’ve no experience with. Veronica ‘Golden Halo’ (picture) looks great, and apparently grows in shade, but I’m unsure if it will achieve that color in shade or if it needs a little sun. I also saw some pictures of a Veronica ‘Sunshine’ (picture), but some of the pictures look awfully green so I don’t trust it.

Right now I’m leaning towards Heuchera ‘Citronelle’, it is the image pictured above at the top of this post. In my experience, heucheras receive their best color when in shade, and sunlight greens them, so, I would hope that this would be as yellow as it can be in the shade. However, heucherellas are closely related to heucheras and my experience with the heucherellas there hasn’t been good.

So, before I pull the trigger and order some of these, I’m hoping I’ll get some feedback from others. So please comment if you’ve grown any of the plants I’ve mentioned, or have ideas for ones I’ve not yet mentioned. Remember, it has to have yellow foliage, that will stay yellow in full absolute shade. Also, the spot is moist, and I am in zone 5.

11 Responses to “Golden Yellow Ground Cover for Shade”

  1. Shady Gardener  Says:

    I love tricyrtis (toad lily) and pulmonaria (lungwort) that both love shade. There is a variegated toad lily and there are light colored lungwort leaves that are very fetching. Tiarellas also like deep shade.

    I was encouraged that you have a japanese maple in the deep shade! 🙂

  2. Curtis  Says:

    I agree with Shady – I had a tricyrtis and loved it! It really adds some spice to your garden 🙂

  3. Joy  Says:

    I have a few heucherellas .. and they seem to do well with a bit of sun and shade. Plus yes .. Toad Lily is gorgeous .. they have cultivars with the most amazing buttery yellow flowers .. I think I will have to indulge in one of those .. of course I have to backtrack on my plant sites to nail the exact one .. but it left one heck of an impression on me .. I’ll remember as soon as I see the name of course ! LOL
    I have both Sunspot and Stoplight .. they are very pretty indeed !

  4. rees cowden  Says:

    I agree with your concern about variegated leaves being a problem, especially in shade. I have a general dislike for them most of the time because they sometimes just tend to look sick. I have alwasy found ajuga to be a good groundcover for shady areas. Dicentra ( bleeding heart) is another good choice for shade.
    Rees Cowden

  5. Kristal L. Rosebrook  Says:

    Yes, the tricyrtis grows great next to my house where there is a lot of shade. They are great for that area.
    Kristal L. Rosebrook

  6. tina  Says:

    how about ornamental grasses . you can mix them up to different sizes, colors.

  7. Administrator  Says:

    Most ornamental grasses require more sun and or a warmer clime than what I have.

  8. Jean Ann  Says:

    If you have other areas of shade, one of my favorite hosta’s is Patriot…It is variegated, but it looks pretty much the same all of the time. The stripes of white on the edges of the leaves make it really pop!

  9. plantscubed  Says:

    How about Japanese Painted Fern – it doesn’t lose color in the shade.

  10. karen  Says:

    Whatever you do – do not plant creeping jenny! It is horribly invasive even in small spaces. I put in one plant and it has taken over my entire shade garden. It spreads by suckers and they cannot be eradicated by yanking. I am looking at having to dig my garden up two inches deep all over just to rid myself of it.

  11. Administrator  Says:

    most groundcovers, by definition, are invasive, else they would not cover things.

    I’d had no problems with it getting out of control though, even sometimes keeping it around. Shade seems to do a number on it, and if it ever gets to where I don’t want it, I toss some mulch on it, and it hasn’t gone beyond there.

Leave a Response

(Email field must be filled in)

Top of page...