One of the most challenging spots in a garden is shade, and let’s be honest, all gardens have shade. The shade you find in your garden is often the neglected areas underneath big trees.

Let’s help you with some helpful tips and solutions for creating an exciting garden in any shaded area, while using some of the best indigenous plants that South Africa has to offer. 

Clivia (Complements of Knysna Log-Inn Hotel Gardens)

First Things First: 

The term shade is generally used to refer to the condition that results when sunlight is prevented from reaching an area. As plants grow taller and trees mature, they screen out the sunlight making it darker and cooler. Buildings and high boundary walls have the same (immediate) effect. 

Different Kinds of Shades: 

  1. Dense Shade

This is where no direct sunlight gets through the canopy to the ground

  1. Dappled or Filtered Shade

This is where sunlight reaches plants through the canopy of normally small-leafed trees

  1. Semi-Shade

Here the plants receive sunlight for a few hours a day, either in the morning or in the afternoon

Chlorophytum comosum variegata (Complements of

Tips for Shade Planting:  

Space plants further apart than you would in a sunny spot. This improves air movement and discourage mildew.

Big trees mean massive root systems that deplete the soil’s nutritional elements, and their ability to retain water. Before planting your shade garden, work in a lot of compost and cover it with a fair amount of mulch. Mulching is very important, especially in the Western Cape’s dry summers. 

Plant plants in groups together for better impact, and also use plants with different coloured leaves, leave textures and leave size to ensure a beautiful and exciting space.  

Crassula multicava (Complements of Plantbook)

Indigenous Shade Loving Plants:  

Below is a list of plants that have adapted to tolerate both dry summers in the Western Cape and shady conditions. Some of these have succulent-like leaves, fleshy roots or a bulbous base. 

  1. Shrubs

Strelitzia reginae, Plectranthus ecklonii, Clivia miniata, Dietes grandiflora, Dietes bicolor, Zantedeschia aethiopica, Chlorophytum saundersii, Sanseveria spp. and Rhumorha adiantiformis. 

  1. Groundcovers

Crassula multicava, Plectranthus spp., Drimiopsis maculata, Agapanthus, Chlorophytum comosum variegata, Asparagus spp. 

Maintaining a shade garden can be fun and beautiful and also spares the gardener from toiling in the hot sun. And who doesn’t want shade in summer, especially in Paarl and surrounds! 

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