So you have a shady pond? Not sure which plants need sunlight?

​​Spring in Minnesota = Planting season! Several of our customers have shady ponds and were wondering which plants need sunlight. So, here are a few shady-pond-plant tips!

Plant early spring blooming perennials.

The plants come up and flower before the trees have their full leaf canopy.   

  • Marsh Marigolds, Caltha palustris- The bright gold of marsh marigolds is so cheerful after the brown of early spring!
  • Blue flag iris, Iris versicolor- also an early bloomer, gorgeous flowers in varying shades of purple. (I would steer away from the yellow iris though- it is invasive in MN.)

Use plants with variegated foliage to brighten darker ponds.  

  • Sweet flag, Acorus calamus variegatus is the go-to plant for hardiness.  
  • Golden Japanese sweet flag, Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ is the smaller version of sweet flag and has more yellow and green striped leaves.  Probably best to use it as a tender perennial in MN.
  • Taro, Taro Colocasia esculenta- From deep purple ‘Black Coral’ to bright green and white, taros offer a lush, tropical foliage plant to pond owners.  Foliage plant- Sun to part sun.  These can get 3 ft tall!
  • Creeping Jenny,  Lysimachia,  a trailing, chartreuse green plant that looks lovely cascading over rocks or covering unsightly parts of the pond.

Other plants that work in light shade:

  • Blue eyed grass, stout Sisyrinchium angustifolium- has pretty purple flowers with yellow centers
  • Obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana- a member of the mint family which has pink flowers all summer.
  • Hardy Water lilies– Water lilies will bloom best in full sun but  can offer flowers even with as little as 6 hrs of sunlight.  Fertilize them well!
  • Water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes- Floating plant with a rosette of fuzzy green leaves.

Part shade to full shade plants:

  • Lizard’s tail, Saururus cernuus- has many, tiny fragrant white flowers. Known for blooming even in shady locations!
  • Golden Bowles Sedge, Carex elata ‘Bowles Golden’- Spectacular chartreuse grass like leaves!  Sun to shade.
  • Fairy Moss, Azolla caroliniana- Tiny floating fern about 1/2 centimeter in size!  Frilly, rich green color. Turns purple with cooler weather. Sun to shade.
  • Umbrella Palm, medium or dwarf, Cyperus alternifolius, Tropical plant with fun whorls of leaves topping sturdy green stems.  Gives an “Egyptian” look to your pond! (bonus- these never seem to be bothered by bugs or disease that I’ve noticed.)
  • Floating Island Planters– Planters come pre-planted with mixed shade tolerant flowering annuals giving you color even in shady spots!  Plus, they are super easy to use- drop in, anchor in place, and enjoy!
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