By Mary Lew Quesinberry

Special to the Daily Herald

We have a small flowerbed at the front of the house that is in almost complete shade. What plants, both flowering and small shrubs, will grow in our hot summers in almost complete shade?

You can have a beautiful shady planting bed using the dwarf forms of shrubs — nandina, yaupon holly, pittosporum, Indian Hawthorne or mahonia. In front of the shrubs, plant a mix of perennials and annuals that do well in shade — evergreen perennials such as cast iron plant, sedum, liriope and monkey grass. Other shade-loving perennials are columbine, coreopsis, all ferns (including asparagus fern), Cedar Sage, Texas Betany, purple oxalis, Turk's Cap and Inland Sea Oats. To add stunning pops of color, try wax begonias, fibrous begonias and New Guinea impatiens. Coleus, caladiums and celosia have many stunning leaf forms and colors. For cool seasons, plant dianthus, pansies and petunias.

Enlarge your planting bed and plant shrubs and/or evergreen perennials at least 3 to 4 feet away from the house and leave 3 feet between plants. Plants placed too close to the house limit airflow and encourage disease. Place shorter plants in front and add pockets of brightly colored annuals. Although annuals only last one season, they are worth the constant color they bring to flowerbeds. Before you plant, amend the soil with compost and bark mulch. After planting, apply 3 to 4 inches of native mulch. Water at least 1 inch per week. Monitor the plants' water needs closely since plants in shady areas sometimes require more water because of the competition of tree roots.

Have any questions about gardening in Central Texas? Email

Be a Master Gardener

Applications are being accepted for the next Bell County Master Gardeners class starting in January. Download the form at or pick one up at the AgriLife Extension Office, 1605 N. Main, Belton. Call (254) 933-5305 for more information. The all-inclusive fee is $250.

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