Although most of us look forward to bright summer days, many attractive and useful perennials prefer life out of the spotlight. These plants perform beautifully without direct sun and are perfect choices for woodlands and partly shaded areas of the garden.¬†“Partial shade” as an area receiving three to six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Astilbe is a rugged and beautiful genus of shade lovers that throw colorful spikes above divided foliage in summer, a time when color in the shade garden is hard to come by.

Plant Astilbes in masses to create a ground cover, or use them as colorful punctuation marks in a woodland border. Just be sure the soil is evenly moist or wet. Astilbes are tough and easy to grow, but one thing they cannot tolerate is drought.

Although Hostas generally  tolerate full sun if kept well watered, we mostly think of them as stalwarts of the shade garden. Their rich textures, elegantly patterned color, bold foliage, and spikes of summer flowers make them difficult to resist.

Hostas are fairly foolproof plants if given reasonable care. Most varieties thrive in average, evenly moist soil in partial shade. Once established, they can tolerate drought in most areas of the country but will require regular watering in the South.

Before planting Hostas, be sure you’ve considered how large the plant will be when mature. If crammed too close together, these plants cannot thrive.

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