Made in the Shade, A Synopsis

Made in the Shade by Kelly Billing and Zac DeGarmeaux

This article highlights pond plants that will thrive in shady areas, many that will still flower. The article is broken up into several sections.

The first section mentions shallow water plants. These plants include marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), giant marsh marigold (Caltha polypetala), bog bean (Menyanthes trifoliate), blue flag iris (Iris versicolor), cardinal flower (Lobelia speciosa), golden club (Orontium aquaticum), lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), Chinese lizard’s tail (Saururus chinensis), variegated sedge(Carex riparia), and water forget-me-not (Myosostis scorpioides). All of these plants should flower in moderate shade and will provide attractive foliage as well. Most of these plants will do well planted in baskets (HA8552) around the shallow edges of the pond.

The second section mentions annuals. The main plant mentioned here is the taro (Colocasia spp.) which comes in many varieties with very different and striking foliage colors. Some of the varieties mentioned are blue Hawaii, electric blue gecko, Elena, elepaio, imperial, mojito, red stem, and teacup. Other available varieties include green, violet stem, and black magic. Other plants mentioned in this section are the firecracker plant (Cuphea ignea) and more traditional annuals such as impatiens and coleus. Both will thrive in shallow moving water.

The third section briefly mentions perennials. The plants listed in this section are primarily garden plants that will tolerate shallow moving water such as hosta and royal fern.

The fourth section is about lily-like aquatic plants. These are plants that grow in a similar manner to water lillies and may be placed in deeper water. These include spatterdock (Nuphar advena) which makes an excellent choice for koi ponds as it is not appealing to them. Water hawthorne (Aponogeton distachyos) is a deep water plant that flowers during cooler weather in the spring, fall, and early winter.


The last section of this article addresses water lilies and lotuses that will flower with minimal direct sunlight. There are several Nymphaea lily varieties including “Rhonda Kay”, “Clyde Ikins”, and “Colorado” that can flower with as little as two hours of direct sunlight. Be sure to fertilize (TWG2714) well to promote flower production. Nelmbo lotuses will thrive in as little as four to five hours of direct sun. When kept in part shade they will not produce as many flowers but will still have impressive foliage. Large solid bottom pots (HA8905, HA8906) are ideal for planting both lilies and lotuses in the deeper areas of the pond.

In closing, the article mentions several other shade tolerant plants that add foliage color and texture to shady areas. These include horsetail (Equisetum), umbrella palms (Cyperus alternifolius), compact payprus (Cperus percamentus), sword (Echinodorous), and arrow arum (Peltandra).

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