Picture: Tom MacCubbin
About 40 years ago you did something we asked you to do – you planted trees. Now you probably have lots of shade often so much the grass may have trouble growing and many of the common shrubs are declining. Some gardeners are in a real quandary. What are they going to do?
If you remember when tree plantings were popular you may recall seedlings were frequently given to gardeners for planting. Often there were packets of seedling trees offered. Some included two eucalyptus trees that grew a foot a month but succumbed to cold during the 1980's in many areas of the states. There was also a dogwood tree that needed more care than most of us could provide and it died too.
Only the two oak trees usually survived and they grew tall and wide. They are maturing trees now offering lots of shade. So much shade the grass won’t grow and many of the shrubs including pittosporum, junipers and ligustrums are severely thinning or declining. So what are you going to do?
Gardeners are sent scurrying for the more shade tolerant plants. You can usually use turf until there is 25 percent or so of shade. But now you have much more shade. Also, don’t forget the rot competition too. Did you every try to dig a hole under and oak tree? Your list of available plants has been shrinking as the trees have been growing.
Don’t despair because there are a number of good shade lovers. You may however have to plant them in containers or start the plantings some distance from the trunk of the trees to avoid the roots. There is nothing wrong with using mulch around tree trunks and starting the plantings 4, 5 or more feet out. Also, you don’t want to remove lots of roots. This could cause tree decline. Also, avoid filling over the roots of trees with soil. Any more than an inch or two could cause suffocation of the root system.
If you have shade here is a beginning guide to plantings that won’t mind the lower light levels.
Shrubs: Anise, azaleas, camellias, crotons, dwarf yaupon holly, flamingo plant, lady
palm, strobilanthes & ti plants
Ground covers: Algerian ivy, aluminum plant, Asiatic jasmine, bromeliads, caladiums,
cast iron plant, confederate jasmine, English ivy, ferns, mondo grass,
philodendron, stromanthe ‘Tricolor’ & wandering jew.
Flowers: Anthurium, begonias, clivia lily, crossandra, eucharist lilies, impatiens, peacock
ginger, spathiphyllum, violets & walking iris.
Give plantings in shade normal care but you may not have to add as much water once they are established. Many need less moisture when protected from the strong Florida sun.