As you read last week, I have been looking for alternatives to flowers and bushes that will grow well in a shaded area. I came up with Ornamental Grasses. Last week’s Gardening Tip was on those that did well in fully shaded areas and a few that didn’t mind fully or partially shaded areas. My research uncovered many grasses that would be good in partially shaded areas but could not withstand full shade. They are the focus of this article. The Red Hook Sedge may get a trial next year as a border along the fence under the trees on the southwest side of my pool.
1. Hakonechloa All Gold. PARTIAL SHADE
As the name suggests, this plant is all gold in colour, bright yellow atop a green base. The stems are quite slender and the bright yellow foliage resembles a small bamboo. It spreads slowly and gently via rhizomes, perfect for containers or mixed borders and only grows to around 16 inches (40cm). This is a very hardy variety which prefers partial shade but does also grow in full sun in moist humus-rich soil. This variety does die back for the winter so mulching in autumn with a layer of compost is recommended. NOTE: This is not a full shade grass so for me it would only suit a few garden areas.
2. Red hook sedge (Uncinia rubra). PARTIAL SHADE. In this case the plants needs at least 4 hours of light per day in order to flower.
Known as the firedance, this compact sedge is a rich red, bronze colour and is absolutely stunning. If you are looking to add a splash of colour, this mound-shaped grass is it. The leaves have vertical accents of red along with the otherwise olive-green leaves so it creates unique clumps that juxtapose other verdant plants or grasses you grow with it. This grass needs to be planted in partial shade in a sheltered position in well-drained soil. It’s worth mentioning that it can be grown in full sun but would then need moist soil to thrive. If you have full shade, this one may not suite your needs. It grows to 10 to 12” tall and 12” to 14” wide.
3. Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa). PARTIAL SHADE.
Known as tufted hair grass, this plant produces hair-like blades of green and yellow grass that grow in tufts. It forms clumps and grows in low, dense groups. There are flowers that cover the foliage come summer which take on tones of purple, green, gold, and silver, forming a cloud of colour above the foliage. They attract birds well and are tolerant of air pollution so you can plant them along borders near a road without issue.
From last week’s Gardening Tip, you’ll recall that the following Ornamental Grasses can be grown in partial shade even though they tolerate full shade well:
- Hakonechloa macra Aureola PARTIAL or FULL SHADE
- Snow Rush (Luzula nivea) PARTIAL or FULL SHADE
- Sedge (Carex Ice Dance). PARTIAL or FULL SHADE
Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society