#31 More Plants for the North Side of the House
Last week my column focused on plants, and this week will be a continuation of that subject. I was discussing the situation often found on the north side of homes, where shade prevails most of the year, but summer sun beats down during the mid-day period. Last week described shrubs appropriate to the circumstances, and this week I’ll detail vines and perennials that might be fitting. These plants were chosen with white flowers or markings predominating, to be used in a “Moon Garden” theme.
Star/Confederate Jasmine Trachelspermum jasminoides
An evergreen vine climbing to 20 feet or more with support, it’s heavenly scented white flowers are borne over a long period in spring and early summer. It is also available in a variegated form, with the leaves edged and blotched with white. Plant on a trellis or fence for support.
Climbing Fig Ficus pumila
This semi-tender climber is evergreen in most winters, and holds fast to its support with “stick-tight” appendages. In youth it makes a lovely tracery of vine, but matures to a thicker, larger leaf that will bear large, oblong fruits in time. It is best managed by cutting it to the ground every few years. ‘Variegata’ has standard sized leaves with white markings. Since it will be grown upon the north surface of the house, it won’t receive any direct sun, which might damage it.
Plumbago Plumbago auriculata
This tender shrub/perennial is usually frozen to the ground most winters, but returns to form a cascading bush 3-4 feet high and 4-6 feet wide. It comes in white and the more common pale blue, and flowers from summer through fall. It might need to be situated several feet away from the base of the house to capture the most sunlight that might become available.
Cast Iron Plant Aspidistra elatior ‘Milky Way’
A staple of shade gardens throughout the South, this cultivar has the same deep green upright leaves splashed with white markings. Plant it very close to the house to avoid sun-scald in the heat of summer.
White Turk’s Cap Malvaviscus arboreus
A Central Texas native, this hybrid of the species has white flowers from late spring through fall. The foliage grows from 2-3 feet high and as wide, and goes dormant in winter. The flowers draw hummingbirds and butterflies, and the fruit is eaten by a variety of wildlife
Aztec Grass Ophiopogon intermedius
A variegated grass-like plant, very similar to Liriope. It grows only 1’ tall and as wide, and has medium green evergreen leaves striped with white.
Liriope Liriope muscari ‘Silvery Sunproof’
Another evergreen perennial with grassy leaves, this cultivar has a gold stripes that mature to white along the leaves. It grows about 18” tall and as wide, and has lilac flowers in summer, held well above the foliage.
Shrimp Plant Justica brandegeana
An old-fashioned favorite of southern gardens, there is a new white flowered cultivar available in some nurseries this year. It grows to 3’ high and as wide, and produces flowers over a very long season. Hummingbirds love it.
White Tropical Sage Salvia coccinea
A tender perennial, this 2’ x 1.5’ plant will produce a multitude of white flowers from late spring until fall. It attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies. It is said to reseed profusely, but may require replanting each season.
River Fern Thelypteris kunthii
This native of both the Edwards Plateau and Blackland Prairies grows best in shade, but will tolerate a period of sun if well-watered. Its mid-green fronds are deciduous in winter, and spread fairly rapidly by rhizomes over an area 3 feet wide and rising to 2 feet tall.