Gold-color perennials
for shade

Some deer-resistant plants
that 'glow in the shade'

By Elise Ford, P.A. Flinn & Barbara Murphy
Penn State Master Gardeners ©2016

A plant with glowing, golden foliage is a highlight of any garden, but especially a shady one.

Three deer-resistant perennials will be among the plants for sale April 23, 2016 in a free Garden Marketplace that will be part of the Western Pennsylvania Garden and Landscape Symposium.

From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., hard-to-find perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees grown or selected by Penn State Master Gardeners will be sold along with garden books, tools and accessories at Shadyside Academy’s Roy McKnight Hockey Center, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel 15238. At the symposium nearby, a roster of garden speakers will be featured (see story below). Free parking for Garden Marketplace customers is available in a lot adjacent to the ice rink.

More on plants for sale that day:

‘Amber Moon’ astilbe’s foliage emerges bright chartreuse with a narrow red edge. In midsummer, its leaves turn green and it sends up blush-red stems topped with rose-pink bottlebrush flowers. Vigorous and heat-tolerant, this astilbe reaches 30 inches tall with an 18-inch spread. It can handle part to full shade and likes consistently moist, organic-rich soil.

‘Diane’s Gold’ Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) retains its broad, chartreuse leaves throughout the year. Sky blue, forget-me-not flowers hover above the golden foliage in late spring. It matures to 12 inches tall by 24 inches wide and grows best in part to full shade in organic, well-drained soil.

‘Sun King’ Japanese spikenard (Aralia cordata) quickly grows into a 3-foot tall and wide clump but may reach 6 feet tall after several years. This plant’s tropical vibe makes it a stunning accent or focal point. Two-foot spikes of clustered, tiny white flowers bloom in summer, followed by ornamental purple-black berries that birds love. ‘Sun King’ is best grown in part sun to light shade. An hour of morning sun each day helps maintain that golden glow all season.


The master gardeners will also have two sun-loving perennials that attract pollinators while not enticing deer:

New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is a handsome choice for the back of a garden border. This low-maintenance native perennial has tall, leafy stems that reach 4-6 feet. In late summer to early fall, its stems are topped by broad, flat clusters of brilliant purple flower heads that attract butterflies and other pollinators. After blooming, clip off the heads to avoid unwanted self-seeding. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. The strong stems do not need to be staked or supported.


‘Blue Boa’ and ‘Kudos Coral’ anise hyssop (Agastache). This easy-to-grow, hardy perennial is both a pollinator’s and a gardener’s dream. It provides summer-long nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects. And it gives gardeners long-blooming, fragrant, showy flowers with bright green foliage that neither deer nor rabbits like.

'Blue Boa' has violet-blue, 5-inch long flower spikes on stems covered with anise-scented leaves. It grows to almost 3 feet tall and 16 inches wide.

‘Kudos Coral' features tangerine buds that open to coral pink flowers. It reaches only 16 inches high and 14 inches wide and has honey- and mint-scented leaves.


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