GARDENING GODDESS: A cutting garden in the shade

IMAGE: Photo by Kathy Jentz.


The author will be talking more about cut flowers and arranging at two upcoming events: at On the Purple Couch in Kensington on Sunday, July 10 and the Takoma Horticultural Club on Wednesday, July 20.

Previously in this column, I have shared how to grow your own cutting garden. (See the April 2011 Takoma/Silver Spring Voice). However, many folks inside the beltway and in older neighborhoods have a lack of full sun on their yards, so much of the traditional cutting garden selections are out of the question. Here is a listing of seven flowering plants that you can grow successfully in shade or part-shade that are great for cutting and arranging:


Photo by Kathy Jentz.

Hydrangea – From mophead to oakleaf, hydrangeas of all kinds will flower prolifically in the shade and are wonderful, long-lasting cut flowers.

Black-eyed Susan – This sun-loving perennial sneaks off and seeds itself in shady spots in my garden and still blooms away. The more you cut it, the more it will re-bloom for you so be sure to gather the flowers early and often.

Hellebore (Lenten Rose) – Lenton Rose is a very popular cut flower in Europe and really should be used more here where it grows so well. The flowers on this hardy plant are perfect cut and floated in a bowl of water. I have had them last that way for over a month.

Astilbe – This plant loves moist shade and has a long bloom period. Even after the flowers have dried on the stems they look good and can be used in arrangements. Some people even use floral dye spray on them for a colorful effect.

Lady’s Mantle – This lovely plant is a great shade groundcover and the airy branches of flowers it sends up are terrific gathered in bouquets. These delicate blooms can be background for more delicate ones.

Hosta – We grow hosta for its foliage, but the flowers can be equally as rewarding. The old—fashioned Plantain Lily variety in particular is a great cut bloom with its tall wands of white flowers in late summer that give off an intoxicating fragrance,

Toadlily – This autumn-bloomer is a show-stopper. It has orchid-like blossoms on tall stems and is perfect in a bud vase or mixed with other fall flowers.

Of course, you can always supplement your cutting garden arrangements with flowers, grasses, and branches cut from other plants in your gardens. Try Ferns, Caladiums, and Solomon’s Seal – all offer dramatic foliage that can be added to a bouquet or be used in a vase on their own.

About the Author

Kathy Jentz
Kathy Jentz is editor of Washington Gardener magazine and is a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Washington Gardener is all about gardening where you live. She can be reached at @WDCgardener on Twitter and welcomes your local DMV gardening questions.