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by Maripat
(Cincinnati, OH USAZone 6)

Your site is wonderful. I wish I lived closer to you! I too have an SBI site but that is not how I found you!!
My question is what to plant on the North side of my house. It gets a little filtered sun and then mostly shade.
I had hostas going great until the deer found them 🙁
I also have the air conditioner condensing unit there. There is no sidewalk on that side and it gets little use, so something I can plant and forget would be great. I don’t think succulents like shade, but I thought I would ask your expert opinion.
Continued success on your site.

Drought Smart Plants reply:

Hi Maripat – thanks for visiting, no matter how you found me!

I wonder if something short and groundcovering like Ajuga, the bugleweed would work for you. It likes shade and survives dry conditions very well.

Other options are some of the native wildflowers local to your area – look for those called ephemeral, and mix them with some shade tolerant bulbs such as Oxalis, and plant Vinca (periwinkle) over the whole lot. This will give you all year coverage, with the Vinca providing blooms in May, the ephemerals and bulbs emerging to give you more colour in whatever their season is.

For something a little taller, many ferns such as the Ostrich fern, Mattetucia struthteropteris (how’s that for a mouthful?) don’t mind some summer dryness. Keep in mind that if it gets really dry, many of these plants use the strategy of going dormant to cope.

One plant I grow that seems impervious to deer, rabbits, drought and in fact thrives in horrible conditions is Galium odoratum or Asperula odorata, the sweet woodruff of old England. It was used as a strewing herb, spread on the floors in the castles to soak up moisture (from spilled ale, I have no doubt) and to keep the smell down. Plant this only in the worst conditions you have, and don’t water it as it can get carried away.

Another great choice is Heuchera – there are many new varieties as this was very popular a few years ago and lots of new types with lovely metalic, veined and crinkled foliage were released. I can’t speak to the deer if they are partial to these, but they’re worth a try.

I hope I’ve given you some options of hardy drought tolerant and shade loving plants to test in your conditions.