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Please help a beginner choose plants


I have these 2 planters and I'm trying to choose the best plants.

I am in Scotland (zone 8 I think), south facing garden but the location of the planters is shaded most of the day. The garden is pretty bright with daylight, but no direct sunlight in that location.

I like big vibrant scarlet reds such as rhododendrons, camellias, giant geraniums etc. Is anything like this possible in full shade (albeit in reasonable daylight)?

I don't mind if they are perennial or annual.

If this is unrealistic, I would maybe go for some kind of non-flowering low maintenance evergreen.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! 


  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    edited March 2021

    Lots of suggestions here personally I love heucheras but I have vine weevils who also love them!
  • B3B3 Posts: 25,241
    edited March 2021
    They look quite narrow, or is it the photo? If they are narrow you'd need to stick to annuals or small perennials  rather than shrubs.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,237
    Not my cup of tea but you might like trailing begonias... it's just the right spot for them, bright but somewhat shaded. You can dig up the tubers (roots) and store them in the shed overwinter for next year.

    Begonia 'Bertini' tubers — Buy online at Farmer Gracy UK
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    If you attached some trellis on the side of the shed you could go with one of the shade loving clematis?
  • Thank you for the ideas, I will look these up tomorrow.

    For reference the planters are around 100cm long / 40cm high (from ground to top) / 30cm depth (from front to back) so pretty large. For scale the fence is 8' long. 
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,052
    30cm is pretty narrow and does limit your options, along with the lack of sun when it comes to red plants. Of those you mention, I think it’s too small for large shrubs like Camellias and Rhododendrons, and Geraniums (the bright red blowsy ones are Pelargoniums) prefer sun. There is a Camellia with a tall, narrow habit that might just work, but I think the flowers are pink. A red Alstibe would cope and give you some height and could be planted around with evergreens, like trailing ivy, plus you could slot some woodland type spring bulbs in there too to extend the period of interest.

    Another solution - If you relocated your planters to a sunny spot and dug out a strip of grass, say 50cm deep, that would mean your options for planting against the shed increase and you can have your sun-loving red plants (e.g. pelargoniums, salvias, dwarf dahlias) in the planters in the sun. If your soil is on the acid side, a red camellia in the new ‘shed bed’ would work.

    Consider how red would look against the orange colour of the shed. Perhaps paint the shed? Painting the shed black or dark grey would make your plants really stand out and helps to visually recede the shed itself, making your garden look bigger. A trick many gardeners on here use.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Thank you everyone. After some long hard thought I have decided that I'm going to go with red astilbe (thank you Nollie). I've seen them mentioned a few times as coping well with shade and I think they'll give a novice like me the best chance at success!

    I have grey shed paint ready and waiting as well as some grey gravel for underneath the planters, so I think the astilbe will stand out nicely. 

    So, astilbe for height, with some evergreens around, and chuck in some bulbs? 

    Could anyone recommend the best type of soil to use, and any recommendations of evergreens and bulbs? 

  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,432
    You could have a look at the various types of dwarf Euonymus perhaps. I've used them in pots and planters and they're pretty tough. 
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,052
    Hi, that will look smart, sounds as if you are on it re the fence and gravel! Do check your planters have drainage holes, as you will need to drill some of not. I think a variegated trailing ivy would look better against the dark fence than the dark green one. Lots of choice bulbs for shade, wood anenome, fritillary, crocus, snowdrop.. anything purple or white would look nice with the red alstibe, but if you wanted to stick to the red theme then maybe cyclamen.

    For soil, go for a loam-based soil, not multi-purpose compost, which has few nutrients for any length of time, and aim for a PH of 7 which is neutral or very slightly acidic - which will suit the alstibes and woodland bulbs. If in doubt, go for neutral which suits most plants.

    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Wonderful advice, thank you! I shall provide updates when I manage to get it up and running. 
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