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The Best Plants for No, Some, and Full Sunlight — A Handy Guide


Looking to add life to your outdoor space? Try placing a few plants for a vibrant touch that will last throughout the summer. These low maintenance high-impact perennial flowers transform your space from everyday to extraordinary!

Hydrangeas thrive best in part shade.

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“Low-maintenance perennial flowering shrubs serve as the backbone of a garden, adding eye-catching interest, color and structure to an outdoor space when they bloom at the same time each year,” says Jan Johnsen, author of Floratopia (Buy from Amazon, $16.69) and Gardentopia (Buy from Amazon, $18.79). “Here, a colorful medley of hydrangea shrubs transforms a simple backyard path into an exuberant garden.”

To get the look, nestle roots of four pink and purple hydrangea plants into soil along a walkway that gets part shade, leaving 24 inches or more of space between the plants and the walkway (this prevents crowding as hydrangeas grow). For added interest, create a lush green “underplanting” by nestling hosta and heuchera plants in the soil in the space between the walkway and hydrangeas; keep soil moist.

Note: Hydrangea and rhododendron can be toxic if ingested, so keep away from pets and children

Rhododendron thrive best in part sun.

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“A rich display of fuchsia, purple or white rhododendrons in bloom is a memorable sight,” notes Johnsen. “Try placing a potted rhododendron near a porch for a clever and quick way to add welcoming floral flair to an entryway.”

Because rhododendrons are acid-loving plants, she recommends filling a large pot with potting soil, then mixing in peat moss to lower the soil’s pH. Nestle the roots of a rhododendron plant into soil, place in a spot that gets dappled sunshine and water regularly.

Roses thrive best in full sun.

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“This colorful rose shrub and herb combination is a nice display for brightening up a bare corner on your patio or deck,” says Johnsen. “Plus, the aromatic combination will add refreshing fragrance to your outdoor living space.”

To get the look, fill a large pot that’s equipped with holes for drainage with welldraining soil, drop a garden rose plant in the center, then nestle herbs (like sage, lemon thyme, and chamomile) into the soil around the edge of pot. Give full sun; water well when top inch of soil feels dry.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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