Shade lovers’ par­adise

Flow­er­ing plants add lush, trop­i­cal feel to your pri­vate jun­gle

Central and North Burnett Times - - GARDEN - with Ma­ree Cur­ran Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­ron.com.au

I’VE been do­ing a lot of gar­den­ing these past few weeks. I know, it’s been hideously hot, so I have had to choose my projects care­fully. Usu­ally, I fo­cus most of my en­ergy on my kitchen gar­den, and other ar­eas that are close to the house – the ones that I use and see of­ten. But, in this weather, I’ve been do­ing the bare min­i­mum early in the morn­ing or late in the af­ter­noon, avoid­ing the heat of the day. So that means I’ve had to spend my time in other, more out-of-the way parts of my jun­gle, tak­ing refuge in the rel­a­tively cool shade pro­vided by es­tab­lished trees.

So, what grows well in these shady places? Lots of the in­ter­est­ing fo­liage plants do well, pro­vid­ing year-round colour. I es­pe­cially love things like the ctenan­thes, ca­lath­eas, di­ef­fen­bac­chias, and stro­man­the, which thrive in shade and don’t need too much wa­ter. There are lots of dif­fer­ent leaf pat­terns and colours, and some even have lovely fra­grant flow­ers. They clump up nicely, form­ing a dense ground­cover that sup­presses weed growth. And it’s easy to make new plants just be dig­ging a bit up and putting it in a new spot. Cal­a­di­ums are good, too, but bear in mind that they will be dor­mant in win­ter.

Most bromeli­ads are spec­tac­u­lar and easy-care shade lovers. Guz­ma­nias have showy flower spike that emerges from the cen­tre of the plant, whereas ne­o­regelias are of­ten more sub­tle, with small flow­ers oc­cur­ring right down in the cen­tre of the leaves. The flow­ers last for months, and the plants hap­pily re­pro­duce and flower again, year af­ter year. Al­though some bromeli­ads like full sun, most are con­tent in shade or semi-shade.

Two of the best shade-lov­ing flow­er­ing plants are also the most pop­u­lar flow­er­ing in­door plants – spa­thy­phyl­lums (some­times known as peace lilies) and an­thuri­ums (some­times called Flamingo Flower). They have sim­i­lar types of flow­ers – a large spathe, which is re­ally a mod­i­fied leaf, from which emerges a fleshy spike, called the spadix. The spathe on an­thuri­ums may be pink, white, red, orange or pur­ple, whereas on spa­thy­phyl­lums it is al­ways white. An­thuri­ums pre­fer drier con­di­tions to spa­thy­phyl­lums, which are quite big drinkers. Be aware that all parts of these plants are poi­sonous, and may cause tummy up­sets if you eat them.

Gingers and he­li­co­nias are fab­u­lous in semi-shade, pro­duc­ing ex­traor­di­nary blooms through sum­mer and into au­tumn.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

T H E B R O M E L I A D FA M I LY H A S A B O U T 3 47 5 K N OW N S P E C I E S N AT I V E M A I N LY TO THE TROP­I­CAL AMER­I­CAS ◗ The Calathea makoy­ana thrives in shady spots and does not need much wa­ter.

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