Questions And Answers On Flower Beds For Shade

Lynn asks…

Simple Planting for flower beds?

two ugly lookin flower beds that came with property we rent i would like to beutify our porch a little by planting some pretty low maintenance flowers that are cheap and come in a variety of colors, this is my first time planting so i dont even know what the first step is…. i do know that the 2 flower beds receive shade in the morning hours and it gets a lot of sun during the afternoon to late evening and then the shade returns to them at nite ; ) the beds have dirt in them also for all the green thumbers what are some cool 1st time gardening websites if you know of any
thank you for your help!!
the flower beds measure out to be10′ x 2′ each
live in sunny CALIFORNIA

Home Gardener answers:

Annuals are the easiest plants to grow.
Petunias for summer annuals are easy to care for, wildly colorful and some are very fragrant. Older ones require pinching to branch and dead heading to continue blooming but the modern hybrids do not. Dead heading is removing the olld blooms as they finish to prevent seeds growing. Remember the plants just want to get some seeds, while you just want the flowers to continue, so some help is required with some plants. Easiest are the plants that say they require no pinching, no dead heading, or are ‘self cleaning’.
The Madness Series of petunias or ‘Purple Wave’ (an All-America Selections winner) blooms all summer without being pinched back. Purple was the first color of the series, but now there are pink, lavender, lilac, and blue versions as well.
Easy Wave Series; they grow 8 to 10 inches tall and about 3 feet wide. But it’s the new Tidal Wave Series that I like. Their 2″ blooms just shrug off summer showers instead of folding up.,28012,1037326,00.html

Hybrid Millifloras, a new class of dwarf petunia looking flowers, form mounds 6 to 8″ high & wide, they need no pinching to keep blooming. Small flowers come in every color except yellow. Fantasy Series are perfect for containers and hanging baskets.


Supertunia and Surfinia Series are best used in beds as they grow practically flat; they’re wonderful cascaders when planted in containers or in rockeries. Both come in a full range of colors and never require pinching.

Other Annuals For Sun
Lantana, I particularly like little ‘Patriot Rainbow’.


Coleus- The foliage is as colorful as any flower but please note some prefer shade, others sun so be sure to check which you are getting. Even the sun happy ones like dappled shade in very hot afternoon sun.


Star Hybrid zinnias grow into mounds of blooms to soften border edges.


Salvia, especially the older blue ‘Victoria’ salvia.
Larkspur is a delphinium but not touchy like the big hybrid doubles.
Self-seeding annuals are particularly attractive: They sow themselves by dropping seeds, giving a terrific return on their price.
Shirley poppies (Papaver rhoeas) come in pale shell pinks, deep flushed roses and chiffon-thin whites, bloom for about a month and leave decorative little seed heads that pepper beds with next year’s crop. If you sow Danish Flag poppies (they have clear red flowers) and interplant both types with blue bachelor’s buttons, you’ll have everything you need for patriotic Fourth of July bouquets.

Other self-seeders that extend the season until frost: love-in-a-mist (Nigella), which has pale blue flowers followed by ornate seed pods.


Three-foot-tall pink or white cleomes, spider flowers, which have weirdly wonderful flying-green-bean seed pods.


White-flowering tobacco (both Nicotiana alata and Nicotiana sylvestris) releases an intoxicating fragrance into the night. Plant plenty (Nicotiana alata grows about three feet tall, Nicotiana sylvestris about four) in beds and in the back borders and especially under a bedroom window.


Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus), an old-fashioned perfumer make lovely house bouquets. These will get ratty after spring but produce wonderful cut flowers with a sweet smell until it gets to hot.


Alyssum, Lobularia maritime that smells of new mown hay is one of my favorite reseeding plants. Only the white is very fragrant.


Oriental lilies like the Madonna lily, or Lilium henryi are very fragrant, blooming in mid summer in many pale colors. These do best in lots of afternoon light.
Daylily ‘Kathy Rood’ from Dan Trimmer is by far the most fragrant daylily. Daylilies come in single or double bloom forms with many warm colors. Some have very long bloom periods others bloom at night to welcome you home.


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