Zone 5 Dry Shade Gardens: Growing Zone 5 Plants In Dry Shade

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By Jackie Carroll

Dry shade describes the conditions under a tree with a dense canopy. Thick layers of foliage prevent sun and rain from filtering through, leaving an inhospitable environment for flowers. This article focuses on zone 5 dry shade plants. Read on to find suggested flowering plants for dry shade in zone 5.

Zone 5 Dry Shade Gardens

If you have a tree with a dense canopy, the area under the tree is probably in dry shade. Moisture is blocked from above by the tree’s leaves and branches and absorbed from below by thirsty roots, leaving little moisture for other plants to survive. There is no doubt that this is a difficult area to landscape, but there are some shade-loving plants that thrive in dry conditions.

There isn’t much you can do to improve conditions under the tree. Adding a layer of better soil or organic matter under the tree can seriously damage the roots and even kill the tree. When growing zone 5 plants in dry shade, it’s better to find plants to suit the conditions rather than trying to change the conditions to suit the plants.

Plants for Dry Shade

Here are some preferred plants for zone 5 dry shade gardens.

White Woods asters have thin, dainty white petals that show up well in the shade. These woodland plants look right at home under a tree where they bloom in August and September.  Add spring color by planting golden narcissus bulbs. The bulbs will have plenty of sunlight to bloom and fade before a deciduous tree leafs out.

Lenten roses produce large blossoms in late winter or early spring. They come in white and a range of purples and pinks. The blossoms have thick petals, often with veins in contrasting colors. These lovely, fragrant flowers are often used as a groundcover under trees. Interplant with white anemones for a longer-lasting display.

How about adding some foliage to your zone 5 dry shade garden? Christmas ferns don’t just tolerate dry, shady conditions, they insist on it. They look best when massed together in large swaths. Yellow archangel is a groundcover that produces tiny yellow flowers in June, but it’s best known for the striking, variegated foliage. The white markings on green leaves stand out in the shade of a tree.

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