Choosing plants for shady areas of your landscape can be a daunting task, but taking the time to find the right plants will reward you with a beautiful, thriving garden. Selecting the right plants for the right place will help your garden to need less maintenance and be more successful. One of my favorite plants for shady areas, and particularly dry shade, is Stromanthe. Stromanthe sanguinea ‘Triostar’ has beautiful foliage that looks great throughout the entire year. In fact, ‘Triostar’ is so impressive that is was named a 2008 Florida Plant of the Year by FNGLA (Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association).
This plant is a relative new comer to the mainstream landscaping industry, but is quickly becoming a staple in most garden centers and nurseries. It has very distinctive leaves; the top are a combination of green and white and the backside of the leaf is deep pink color. While the white in the leaves looks great all the time, it is also beautiful when a little bit of light shines through and the pink from the underside makes the entire leaf glow pink. There is some variability in the variegation of the leaves between plants, and I will say that when I am shopping I try to pick out the plants that have the most white in the leaves. You will see some plants that are almost entirely green and this loses some of the qualities that make it so great for shade.
Using white or light colored plants in shady areas are like little light bulbs. They shine in dark places. Variegated plants like this ‘Triostar’ stromanthe help add depth and make spaces look larger.
Stromanthe is easy to grow and requires very little supplemental irrigation once established. What does that mean for you? Water it once or twice a week for the first month or so until it begins to grow new roots out into the soil. Plant it in a location where it gets very little direct light. It can tolerate early morning or late afternoon sun, but won’t thrive in an area where it gets direct sunlight midday.
Stromanthe adds a terrific tropical look to any container or garden. It is very well behaved, forming mounded clumps 24-36″ tall and doesn’t spread or takeover in any way. During the summer months this plant will send up flowers, as seen in this photo the the right. While the flowers are fine, this plant is really being grown for the beautiful leaves and I like to trim them off to keep the plant a little more tidy looking.
If you are looking for a new plant for your garden in a shady area, try stromanthe. Especially for Florida transplants who are used to growing hosta, this plant will fill that same space with a tropical appeal perfect for your southern landscape.