A classic shade plant, Impatiens wallerana bloom in a wide choice of colors. Easy to maintain, this perennial hails from the tropics of East Africa. Impatiens prefer moist but not wet soils, and prolonged exposure to wetness can lead to root rot. Plant in partial shade or keep containers out of direct sunlight. Impatiens provide bloom in shady areas where no other plant will flower. Pinch flowers back regularly to keep from overgrowing.
Some of the best shade garden plants in Florida also thrive in the shade in other parts of the country. However, they can tolerate Florida's hot and humid summers if watered properly. Native plants are also good choices for Florida shade, as they suit native soils and temperatures and provide food and shelter for native wildlife.
Viola x Wittrockiana, better known as the pansy, is another classic shade garden flower. This perennial does well in any soil, but does not like direct sun exposure. In Florida, pansies should bloom all winter. These tough, pest-resistant flowers with their distinctive "faces" thrive in containers and window boxes. Natives of Europe and Asia, pansies come in countless colors and do well even in deep shade, although the blooms will be less profuse. Keep them well-watered and out of the sun to best enjoy the happy faces.
Synonymous with shade gardens, the native Royal Fern is one of the best choices for such sites in Florida. This deciduous fern, Osmunda regalis, does well for foundation or background planting. It thrives in wet areas, and due to its clumping root system, does not spread. Large and full, this fern has both fertile and sterile fronds. The Royal Fern prefers acidic soils. While available at local nurseries, royal ferns cannot be removed from the wild without a permit from the state Department of Agriculture.
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