Shady blooms from seed - Help!


To say I am a novice is an understatement so I'm looking for some help.  I am on round two of trying to establish my garden.  Bought my first house last year and merrily spent a small fortune on loads of plants more or less all died.  The culprit - a very large poplar tree that casts a reasonable amount of shade over my garden.  The tree is being removed this year and I want to try again - but for budget reason I want to start from seed where possible just to give me a strong basis before I start playing around with things in earnest.

Therefore I am looking for recommendations of plants that have the following tendencies...

  • Easy for novices to grow
  • Fast establishing with good coverage
  • To be sown in Feb/Mar
  • Ideal scheme is white and purple/blue and a bit wild and unstructured.

Any ideas anyone.  Eternally greatful of your help.



  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,032

    Is the tree in your garden or a neighbours'?

    If neighbours then unfortunately no guarentee it will be felled. If yours then if done asap you will have some time to deal with the soil conditions you will be left with. The soil beneath/around will be impoverished so will need TLC to improve things before you can safely plant things.

    To do that properly takes time & effort, so had you thought about using large pots/planters for annual flower seeds, summer bulbs etc.? That way you'll get some colour this year.

    Gardening in shade is challenging but there are lots of plants that will provide colour, providing you do 1.preparation of ground & 2. reasearch, ask on here etc, about suitable plants, J.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,256

    Will it still be shady when the poplar's gone?


  • Jacobs Ladder, Polemonium caeruleum will usually flower from the first year if sown early enough and doesn't mind a bit of shade and has purple/blue flowers. You could also sow foxgloves which are easy and grow in full sun to part shade but they won't flower until next year.  I garden in mostly partial shade and there are some nice purple/blue and white flowers that will do well including long flowering  Alstroemeria 'Perfect Blue'  and 'Pandora' and Lythrum  'Dropmore purple, but I didn't grow them from seed. Calendula (Pot Marigold) will do ok in some shade from seed this year but they are yellow/orange.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,256

    Honesty will seed itself without further help once started

  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 5,246

    Hesperis { white and purple ] forms. Various Geraniums [ G. phaeum is particularly nice ] in shades of white, pink, blue and purple; toadflax [ Linaria ] some people think it spreads a bit too easily; sweet Woodruff [ Gallium odoratum ] All of these will grow in part shade, fit the colour requirements and look fairly wild. They are all easy to grow.

    And you've been so busy lately that you haven't found the time 
    To open up your mind And watch the world spinning gently out of time
  • Mrs GMrs G Posts: 336

    Nasturtium, Aquilegia, cornflower and lupin are all really easy to start from seed. They all create masses of see and will self seed if you don't dead head or collect the seeds for autumn or next spring's sowing.  Nasturtiums come in mainly hot colours although there are some creamy/yellow ones but the others come in more soubtle shades.  Al ll of these can be started now indoors or outdoors when the frosts are finished.  Lupins will probably need some slug/snail protection, I prefer to wait until the plants are bigger before putting them out.  They will also manage in poor thin soil apart from the lupins which like it a bit richer,

  • Mike is right - we all need a helping hand from time to time!  Start a compost heap to boost your soil fertility, this will then help all manner of things to grow.  Then start asking your friends and neighbours for bits from their gardens.  Finally - don't be too picky about posh varieties - start with things you know will grow because you can see them in other people's gardens.  Small plants tend do do better than bigger ones if you buy from a garden centre - they have less root to start with and will get away faster than big ones which have a lot of top growth to support and will be in potting compost which dries out too quickly.

  • Good luck Victoria - a few gardening probs here !  As Mike Allen say,s don't despair, there are usually some sort of remedies, even for difficult situations - but no quick fixes if you would like a good long term garden

    Keep asking the questions - there are enough seasoned gardeners on here to help


  • Similar problem in our new garden.  One side has shade from a neighbour's higher ground and fencing which total nearly 4 m.  I have gravelled that side as the access to the top of the garden but would like to grow climbers either in pots or cutouts in the gravel which would grow up and cover the fence.  What does well when it will spend most of the day in shade and only see the sun later in the afternoon?

  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,032

    Hi Waterfall,

    The plants mentioned by others are all good & most will cope in pots, so some colour is possible.

    A climber I love & have growing on a N facing fence, beneath NDN's overhanging Leylands (!!), so not much sun, is Hydrangea Peteolaris. I've also got it on a N facing garage wall that gets afternoon sun, so that 1 does better, but is an older plant anyway.It's a shrub that's self clinging, which if you gave it a good start, you could plant direct into a 'pocket'. You'd need to guide it up there & secure it to start with, & it can be slow to establish. Well worth the wait though IME. The white flowers smell wonderful & even in winter the bark is a good colour.

    With any climber going up the fence do make sure that the panels are in good condition though as future fence maintenance will be compromised.

    You could also use it as a host for climbers in pots in front of it, space permitting.... J.

Sign In or Register to comment.