by Vicki Gagne
Question: I have a shady area in my yard that I would like to
turn into a shade garden, using native Michigan plants. Got any
Answer: I certainly can get you started in the right direction. There
are many native Michigan plants to choose from. Here are a few to try.
- Celastrus scandens:
- American Bittersweet vine has spectacular red-orange fruits in the
fall, and is often used in fall floral arrangements. Sun or part shade, height:
- Dicentra candensis:
- Squirrel corn is a charming 6-12 spring ephemeral woodland
plant with clusters of tiny, white heart-shaped flowers (related to bleeding
heart). It dislikes acidic soil and will not thrive near pine trees.
- Geranium maculatum:
- Wild geranium is a 12-18 spring blooming woodland plant with
dainty, long-lasting pink to lavender flowers. It is easy to grow and spreads
slowly by tubers.
- Hystrix patula:
- Bottlebrush grass is an airy 1-2 woodland grass with
interesting bottlebrush shaped flower heads.
- Lillium superbum:
- Michigan Lily has one to many nodding, orange, showy flowers up to 3
inches across. This 3-6 plant thrives in moist conditions and blooms in
- Phlox divaricata:
- Wild blue phlox is similar to garden phlox but much more delicate and
blooms in the spring. This fragrant, 8-12 shade plant will often go
dormant during hot, dry summers.
- Sanguinaria canadensis:
- Blood root is an elegant 6-9 early spring woodland plant with
glistening white flowers and large, handsome leaves.
- Thalictrum dioicum:
- Early meadow rue is a May-blooming plant with delicate rounded leaves
and tiny clusters of lavender flowers. Growing 12-28 it is mostly found
in rich woods.
- Tradescantia ohiensis:
- Spiderwort grows 2-3 with leaves similar to day lilies and
small blue, rose or white flowers. It spreads moderately well and blooms late
spring into early summer.
Books to read for more information on these and other native Michigan
- Growing Woodland Plants by Clarence and Eleanor Birdseye.
- Michigan Wildflowers by Helen V. Smith
- Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers by Roger Peterson and
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