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Top 5 Easiest Natives in Part Shade

Thinking of adding some natives to your Chesapeake garden in part shade? These 5 can’t be beat for versatility, ease and array of attributes.  You can literally plant them, make sure they get water the first year to get established, and then let them go. There is no need to prune, cut down spent foliage, fertilize or anything else you can think of.  In a severe drought situation, you should watch to see if they need water.  Other than that, you are good.


1. Virginia bluebells (Mertensia Virginica) define spring in the Chesapeake. Whether planted alone, or among Celandine poppies as above, the early emerging leaves followed by deep purple buds that turn to hues of blue create a spring garden like no other.

2. Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), is awash with white flowers in early spring followed by red berries and bright yellow fall foliage. Serviceberries can be found as vased shaped shrubs and trees.

Autumn Bride Heuchera

3. Autumn Bride heuchera (Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’) will fill in wherever you need it to, whether it be moist or dry soil.  This perennial gets about 2 feet wide and a foot to 18″ high.  August flower spikes are terrific too.


4. Agastache (Agastache foeniculum) is a tall perennial with wands of lavender blooms from July through fall.  Pollinators love it. It does flop a bit but the mass of flowers makes up for it.  It also does well in full sun.

5. Inkberry (Ilex glabra) is a small evergreen shrub that is so easy to care for, as opposed to boxwoods and Japanese hollies.  It is not as susceptible to the winter burn or blight that boxwood can get and grows in a much more restrained fashion than Japanese holly. For a small shrub or accent evergreen, inkberry is great.

These 5 plants are easy and bird and pollinator friendly too. Please note that, starting next week, these posts will arrive on Thursday morning.  As always, thanks for reading!

For more information:

About Virginia bluebells from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center;

About heuchera;

About agastache from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; and

About inkberry.


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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