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Many garden areas remain unplanted by gardeners who think that nothing really colorful can grow in very shady spots. But these gardeners are typically thinking of colorful flowers, forgetting that some plants are prized for their colorful foliage. So take another look at the bare, shady nooks in your garden to discover the untapped design potential that’s waiting there for your artistic touch. You can make shady areas spring to life with the simple addition of two plants: caladiums and heucheras.
These plants add a tropical touch to any shade garden. Large, heart-shaped leaves sprout from bulblike tubers and grow quickly into clumping plants that are a snap to maintain. The primary secret to growing healthy caladiums is moist, but well-draining soil. The tubers will rot if you keep them overwatered…or try to grow them in waterlogged soil. A perfect solution is to grow your caladiums in containers. Scattered under trees, pots of caladiums are also a no-dig way for gardeners to enjoy a garden. Containers also make it easy to bring the tubers – pots and all – inside for the winter, because this plant is only winter-hardy outside in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 and 10.
A darling of the shade-garden world, heucheras are also known by their common name, “Coral Bells,” because of the color and shape of the flowers on the original species plants. And even though these plants do produce dainty flowers, it’s their breathtaking foliage that steals the show. These garden treasures are cold-hardy perennials to USDA plant hardiness zone 4.