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Vermont Garden Journal: Plants For Problem Places

Euphorbia is one of many flowering plants that grow well in shady areas.
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Euphorbia is one of many flowering plants that grow well in shady areas.

It seems every perennial flower garden I visit, or grow, has some area that's challenging. Often, the solution is simply growing the right plant in the right place. So let me run through a few perennial flowers for problem places in your yard.

Most gardens have shade, but not all shade is the same. In dry shade, like under a large maple tree, try growing euphorbia, Soloman's Seal, epimedium, lamium and repeat-blooming daylilies. Of course, the more light you can give the plants, the better they'll flower. Nothing really grows well under a low-lying evergreen tree. 

If you have wet shade, such as near a stream or low spot, try growing yellow rocket, yellow foxgloves, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia and black snake root.

I have a spot in my garden that gets lots of sun and dries out quickly. After much experimenting with perennial flowers, and losing some plants, I've found lavender, Russian sage, yarrow, echinacea and sedums grow well in this location.

Many Vermont gardens have clay soil. Although I amend clay in the perennial flower garden religiously, it still will take years to transform it into a loamy soil. Strong-rooted perennials grow best in clay. Baptisia, butterfly weed, sneezeweed, asters and culver's root all seem to plow through the clay. Of course, there are many more flowering plants for problems places than I mentioned here, but you get the idea. Choose wisely and you'll be rewarded with success.

Now for this week's tip: check broccoli-family plants such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale for the green cabbageworm. Look for dark green droppings in the crotch of the plant and holes on the leaves. Check the leaves for the caterpillars. Hand pick the pest or spray with the organic pesticide, Bacillus thuriengensis or Bt, to kill them.

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