The ins and outs of shade gardening
Here in Houston, we know exactly how hot it can get in the summer. Having experienced sweltering heat, we also know what it’s like to feel like we are baking in the sun. So we get how plants must feel. It doesn’t take Houstonians long to figure out that creating shade in our surroundings is a matter of self-preservation, for ourselves AND our plants. So we’re here to help you with your at-home or at-office shade garden.
Since most outdoor shade is provided by tree coverage, soil preparation is an extremely important first step. Tree roots will compete with whatever you are planting, so the quality of the soil must be able to compensate for the drain on the plants. Compost worked through normal Houston soil will provide nutrients and retain enough water for its designated area. If your soil is clay-like, however, you will want to add sand, again to help with irrigation and water retention.The Texas Cooperative Extension office can help determine what type of soil you have and what should be added for optimum nutrition. Of course, fertilizer is a basic go-to growth stimulant and can be tailored to specific plant needs.
Once your soil is set, determine best watering methods. Make sure your plants are placed in a location where they can be soaked with water despite the overhead tree coverage (soaker hoses or an underground system will do the trick), but can also drain well (on a slightly raised bed). Finish the bed with mulch in order to control weeds and retain even more water.
There is nothing prettier than a burst of color at the base of a tree, and this can be accomplished through blooms or variegated foliage. Below is a link to a list of shade plants that grow well in Houston weather. What you choose is purely a matter of personal preference. Have fun, and keep on gardening!
Click here for a list of shade-loving plants.