Bog Plants for Containers in the Shade (Grow your Dream Bog Garden)

What kind of plants in the shade around ponds
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In this article, we extend our knowledge to cover bog plants for containers in the shade. In a previous article we learned about how to create a container garden from scratch, and to describe what plants can go into them in full sun. If you have a pond in the shade what plants are you to use, especially if you have no garden to put them in. This question will be answered hopefully in this article.

Shady areas close to water are perfect for growing a lot of dramatic plants, where the cool, moist environment provides ideal growing conditions for them.

What kind of plants in the shade around ponds
What kind of plants in the shade around ponds

There are a lot of plants that combine well, such as Filipendulas and hostas to provide tropical-style displays. This can be mixed with bright colours of yellow or orange, such as Trollius and Mimulus, along with pink astilbes.

If you prefer a different display you can use cool ferns to give more features around your design. You can mix primulas to complement ferns beautifully. Ideally, you need to use plants of different shapes, forms and colour to give stunning displays around any water feature.

The following plants can be used to give the shapes, forms, and colours in a bog container garden in the shade.

Please note unless stated all of these plants need to be grown in containers full of moisture-retentive multipurpose compost.

AJUGA REPTANS (Bugle)

Ajuga reptans
Ajuga reptans

This is a small (15cm tall) evergreen perennial that has small rosettes of dark, glossy green leaves. In late spring to early summer, short spikes of dark blue flowers appear. Be warned it is a quick spreader, so may need to be kept in check. Look out for ‘Multicolour’, which has purple leaves with splashes of cream and pink.

ARISAEMA TRIPHYLUM

Arisaema triphyllum
Arisaema triphyllum

This 50cm tall upright perennial has green large leaves that are divided into broad, lance-shaped leaflets. This plant is grown for its beautiful green or purple goblet-shaped flowers, which are followed by bright red berries. Grow this plant in a moisture retentive ericaceous compost.

ARUNCUS AETHUSIFOLIUS (Goat’s Beard)

Aruncus aethusifolius
Aruncus aethusifolius

A 40cm tall, clump-forming, deciduous perennial that has fern-like heavily dissected green leaves. Creamy white flowers are produced on sprays that appear in early summer.

ASTILBE x ARENDSII (False Goat’s Beard)

Astilbe chinensis
Astilbe chinensis

This is a leafy perennial with green fern-like leaves, where in summer it produces long plumes of pink flowers. It grows up to 45cm in height.

Alternative Astilbes include Astilbe Chinesis, which is slightly taller and Astilbe ‘Venus’, which grows up to 1m in height.

CAREX ELATA (Sedge)

Carex elata
Carex elata

This 40cm evergreen sedge forms tufts of long, arching narrow, green leaves. Grow this sedge in very damp, multipurpose compost where in summer, spikes of flowers will emerge, Look for ‘Aurea’, which has golden-yellow leaves and dark brown flower spikes.

CHELONE OBLIQUA (Turtle Head)

Chelone obliqua
Chelone obliqua

This tall, upright perennial that grows up to a 1m in height, has toothed, lance-shaped leaves. The familiar turtle head-shaped two-lipped flower of dark pink or purple appear in late summer to autumn. Grow this plant in moisture-retentive ericaceous compost. To get a bushier plant, pinch the growing head in spring.

DARMERA PALTATA (Umbrella Plant)

Darmera peltata
Darmera peltata

This tall, spreading perennial that grows up to 1.2m in height produces massive plate-sized green leaves that turn red in autumn. In spring, pink or white flowers appear that are visible before the leaves that follow soon after.

EUPATURIUM PURPUREM (Joe Pye Weed)

Eupatorium purpureum
Eupatorium purpureum

A 2.2m tall upright perennial that has oval, green leaves with purple-green stalks. Grow this plant in the back of a bog garden where from late summer to autumn tall stems of fluffy, pink-purple flowers appear.

FILIPENDULA PURPUREA (Purple Meadowsweet)

Filipendula purpurea
Filipendula purpurea

This is an upright clump-forming perennial that has divided, green, toothed leaves. On top of 1.2m tall stems, sprays of tiny, red-purple flowers appear. Perfect at the back of a pond parameter.

Other possibilities include Filipendula rubra (Queen of the Prairies) that produce pink plumes and grow up to 2.5m in height.

Filipendula ulmaria produces light green leaves and fragrant white flowers in summer where it grows up to 90cm in height.

GEUM RIVALE (Water Avens)

Geum rivale
Geum rivale

This attractive perennial has rosettes of green leaves, where slender stems of pink-orange flowers appear in late spring to summer. Geum rivale will grow up to 60cm in height. ‘Leonard’s Variety’ has coppery-pink, double blooms and make a good alternative.

HOSTA SIEBOLDIANA (Plantain Lily)

Hosta
Hosta sieboldiana

This 1m tall clump-forming perennial has large bluey-grey green leaves, which is heavily textured. In early summer lilac flowers appear on slim spikes, where it can be grown at the back of container displays.

IRIS ENSATA (Japanese Flag)

Iris ensata
Iris ensata

This upright 90cm tall clump-forming perennial has sword-shaped greyish-green leaves. Flowers of shades of purple, pink and white appear in summer. Grow this beautiful plant in a wet multipurpose compost.

KIRENGESHOMA PALMATA

Kirengeshoma palmata
Kirengeshoma palmata

An attractive upright perennial that has red stems with large, rounded, lobed, serrated, dark green leaves. This 1m tall perennial produces clusters of yellow, small bell-shaped flower from late summer to autumn.

LIGULARIA DENTATA (Leopard Plant)

Ligularia dentata
Ligularia dentata

A 1.m tall, clump-forming perennial, which has large, dark green, heart-shaped leaves. Daisy-like orange-yellow flowers appear in midsummer to early autumn. An alternative includes Ligularia stenocephala, which produces, large spikes of daisy-like flowers. It is a tall plant, which grows up to 1.5m in height.

LYSIMACHIA EPHEMERUM (Willow-leaved Loosestrife)

Lysimachia ephemerum
Lysimachia ephemerum

A 1m tall clump-forming perennial that has willow-like, grey-green leaves. In summer, star-shaped, grey-white flowers appear on tapering spikes. This is followed by attractive green seed heads. Mulch in winter to protect the growing crown. You can use Lysimachia punctata that produces 1m tall, bright yellow flowering spikes.

MATTEUCCIA STRUTHIOPTERIS (Ostrich Feather Fern)

Matteuccia struthiopteris
Matteuccia struthiopteris

A beautiful deciduous fern that has lanced-shaped, deeply divided, green fronds that emerge from a central crown. It gives an effect that it looks like a shuttlecock. This 1m tall plant produces brown fronds in winter, where in spring all fronds need to be cut back.

MIMULUS GUTTATUS (Monkey Flower)

Mimulus guttatus
Mimulus guttatus

A matt-forming perennial that has toothed, jagged-edged, green leaves. In summer and autumn, masses of yellow flowers with red spots appear in succession. This attractive 30cm tall plant attracts bees.

ONOCLEA SENSIBILIS (Sensitive Fern)

Onoclea sensibilis
Onoclea sensibilis

A deciduous, creeping fern that will cover any container with deeply, divided, light green fronds. In winter, brown fronds stand erect, so making something to look at. Grow this fern in a moisture retentive ericaceous compost in the dappled shade.

OSMUNDA REGALIS (Royal Fern)

Osmunda regalis
Osmunda regalis

This 2m tall, large fern has deeply divided, bright green fronds that start of pink in spring and turns red-brown in autumn. The mature clump-forming plant bears tassel-like spikes of red-brown spores at the end of certain fronds.

PRIMULA JAPONICA (Japanese Primrose)

Primula japonica
Primula japonica

This deciduous, rosette-forming primrose has toothed-edge pale green basal leaves. In early summer, tubular, deep red flowers appear, ‘Postford White’ has white flowers instead. Best to plant in groups in containers around a pond or other water features.

Alternative include Primula pulverulenta produces red-purple flowers in early summer, where it will grow up to 1m in height.

Primula veris (Cowslip) produces clusters of nodding, yellow tubular flowers that are fragrant in spring.

RHEUM PALMATUM (Chinese Rhubarb)

Rheum palmatum
Rheum palmatum

A large 2m tall, upright perennial that has giant jagged lobed, dark green leaves, which are purple-red underneath. On sturdy stems large plumes of fluffy, white to red flowers appear, Grow it in the back of your bog garden container display in a very large container.

RODGERSIA PINNATA

Rodgersia pinnata
Rodgersia pinnata

This is a 1.2m tall clump-forming perennial that has large, divided, dark green leaves. In summer conical spikes of small pink, red or yellow flowers appear. Look for ’Superba’ which gas bronze-tinge emerald leaves and bright pink flowers.

SAURURUS CERNUUS (Swamp Lily)

Saururus cernuus
Saururus cernuus

This perennial prefers to be grown in wet conditions. So you would need to use compost that would naturally retain a lot of moisture. The plant has clumps of green, heart-shaped leaves, where it grows up to 1m in height. In summer, slender nodding spikes of tiny, white flowers appear. Can be aggressive, so you may need to divide it regularly to keep it in control.

THALICTRUM DELAVAYI (Chinese Meadow Rue)

Thalictrum delavayi
Thalictrum delavayi

A tall clump-forming perennial, which had fern-like, red-green leaves. This 1.5m tall plant that produces large scattering of tiny, lavender flowers. ‘Hewitt Double’ produces double flowers and is worth looking for.

TRADESCANTIA (Spiderwort)’Andersoniana Group’

Tradescantia 'Andersoniana Group
Tradescantia ‘Andersoniana Group

This 60cm in height perennial has narrow, lance-shaped, green leaves, where in summer to autumn, purple or blue flowers are produced.

TROLLIUS CHINENSIS (Globe Flower)

Trollius chinesis
Trollius chinesis

A clump-forming perennial that has toothed, lobed, green leaves, where it will grow up to 90cm in height. Bowl-shaped orange-yellow flowers with upright stamens are produced in summer. Will tolerate some shade when planted around a water feature in a container.

Look out for Trollius x Cultorum, which produces orange-yellow rose-like flowers and grows up to 75cm in height.

CONCLUSIONS

In this article, we have discussed bog plants for containers in the shade. So if you have a water feature in the shade, you now know what plants will do well in these high humidity areas.

Most of the plants require a moisture retentive compost, whilst some need the plant to be almost waterlogged and that these plants are frequently watered. With this and my previous article, you can now grow plant in full sun and the shade around any water feature, to have beauty surrounding display.

So many plants to choose from and no matter your preference, there is a bog garden plant for you.

If you have any questions or comments you wish to make, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Container Gardening.


24 thoughts on “Bog Plants for Containers in the Shade (Grow your Dream Bog Garden)”

  1. Wow! since all these years that I have been planting, I have never come across this bog plants before and it looks unimaginably awesome. Thanks for bringing this up because I will try to include this in my planting for the next time. This is really great and it sort of looks like a new challenge to me. I like the Astilbe chinensis the most here and I will try it out

    1. Hi Rodarrick

       Bog plants are delightful around pound, where the pond enhance the water within them. This gives tranquillity and a place for thinking. You plant choice is excellent.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  2. Okay, this is a very good one but i didn’t know that there are so many bog garden plant as much as you have shared here. It is very nice of you to share this. I see that some of these plants will need to be watered on a constant basis and some has to be waterlogged already from the start. I will try it out in my balcony garden. I should still have some extra containers.

    1. Hi Henderson.

      These plants are not really made for a balcony unless you have a noticeable water feature. It will look strange on a balcony but can be admired from a garden where a Pond is the main feature. The plants enhance the pond and add plenty of beauty.

      Kind Regards.

      Antonio

  3. I have read both of your articles on planing a bog garden, and I am glad I did!  I have a much better understanding of wht they are, and how to grow one.  I actually think if I do start one, my best bet is to do container plants.  Do you have any suggestion what whould be the best plants for someone living in the southern part of the USA?

    1. Hi Jessie

      Thank you for reading both articles and I am glad you have got plenty from them. Most of my plant selection is for the UK but this means that they can be easily used in America, as most of the plants I have selected are fully hardy and will take severe frosts.  You have no need to worry.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  4. Wow, i really didn’t know about bog plant this much, I like the way it is planted and the location. I actually have a pond not far away form my garden beside a tree in my compound, it’s gonna serve a good use now since it’s been there with no purpose. I like the idea of plants that you have listed here, I’ll check them out all over again carefully and I’ll select the ones I really like. Thank you for the useful information.

  5. Growing a bog garden cannot come at a much easier means than the way you have presented it. Thank you so much for sharing this out with us all. One thing I like most about bog plants are the special and uniqueness they add up to the garden. They always look unimaginably cool and beautiful. I will surely give a trial to some of them on my garden.

    1. Hi Ramos

      You have hit the nail on the head and I am sure if you follow both parts of the article on container bog gardens, you will have your little bit of paradise.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  6. I had no Idea that there was that wide a selection of bog plants. One side of my garden stays in the shade pretty much 60% of the time and the ground is wet but not really boggy. We tend to run 3 flower beds on each side and the side which is in the shade never matches the side that is in the light for growth. Would this be a suitable situation for these kinds of plants? My wife appreciates a variety of colour  but she especially loves pastel colours. Do you have recommendation for the best plants for this? It would be great to get something that works well in the light and the shade so that the 6 beds even up and provide colour for longer. Thanks for an interesting post. Mark

    1. Hi Mark

      These plants do well if they have moist compost  and in the shade, my previous article How to Create a Bog Garden in Containers- Part 1 Plants that can be Grown in Full Sun are plants that prefer to be grown in full sun, These two articles will cover all plants that prefer to be grown in moist conditions in full sun and shade. These plants will all do well under these conditions.

      Believe it or not, I am planning articles of colours in the garden in the near future and pastels is one of them.  I have so many article ideas in my head and it takes time to write them.  You wife will not be disappointed by next spring I would have written articles on colour schemee for container gardens. Until then i beg for your patience.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  7. Well, my mum is a gardener who likes to get her gloves really dirty so giving time to bog plants should not be much of a big deal for her. It seems like she already has some of these plants in her garden but she might have been planting them wrongly. Again, i will share this with her. I can’t wait to visit her so i will see how you have helped improver her garden.

    1. Hi John

      I hope your mum enjoys this article as when I wrote it. She will get a lot out of it.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  8. Thanks for this great article I have enjoyed it because I love container gardening very much and yesterday I also read about How to Maintain a container bog garden and now I have learn which plants to be grown in container bog garden in the shade and am also going to try this gardening thanks so much

    1. Hi Mugalu

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting on both articles, Yes, we both articles you can grow bog plants in containers in full sun and shade, so covering ponds that are sunny and in the shade.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  9. I always learn a lot from your articles that’s why I always look forward to seeing more of it. I’ve read a bit about bog plants but I’m yet to try it out, and I think the fact that it can be planted ina container makes it really easy and convenient. I’ll try it and see how it’s gonna be, I like the suggestions of plants too, they’re all related in a way and they are all beautiful. The only problem I have here is pond and shade, is there no other artificial location that can be used?

    1. Hi Wildecoll

      I do not quite understand what you mean by artificial location, as all gardens can be tailored to your own needs and requirements. This article covers plants that can be grown near ponds and in the shade, and so, will cover these requirements. If You want to phrase the question in another way, I may be able to answer it better.

       Sorry about that.

       Kind Regards

       Antonio

  10. This is another great article and one that I can use even though it might not be as originally intended. You might put me straight if I’m off the mark with my take on it.

    Our garden and, as such, house, sits diagonally in the suns rays. It starts at the back of the house/garden and works its way across, on an angle, throughout the day. Needless to say there are a few places that get little or no direct sunlight. One such patch is at the very top, which also has a canopy of large trees (next doors) adding further shade.

    The soil in this area is rich, as for many years it was home to potatoes and other root crops. Now it has been dormant for a while, I am thinking of making it more a decorative area. Beneath the top soil we have been told it is ‘Marl’ I’m wondering if I can use your recommendations above for this area of garden ? We won’t be planting vegetables any more and it would be a waste if we just left it to the brambles, that are fast overtaking the top of the garden.

    1. Hi  Twack

      On top of the area against trees, I would not recommend you start a container bog garden in the shade, However, I have written three articles about growing plants in the shade. I recommend you grow the plants in containers and not plant near the trees, as trees take all moisture, all nutrients from the soil, making it difficult for plants to grow well. I suggest you read all three of my articles and then make an informed decision.

      The articles are:

      Growing Plants in Containers in the Shade, Part I- Trees and Shrubs

      Growing Plants in Containers in the Shade, part II-The Perennials

      Growing Plants in Containers in the Shade, Part III-Annuals, Biennials and Bulbs

      Hope that helps.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  11. Hi Antonio,

    Great article, my girlfriend is more the avid gardener as supposed to myself. She’s a fan of bog plants, we’re in the UK and they seem to grow pretty well in our garden. I want to get her some new plants and I was thinking of the False Goat’s Beard

    and the Turtle Head.

    Is there an ideal time to plant either one?

    1. Hi Nate

      Thank you for your comment and I hope your girlfriend gets a lot out of it. The best time to start a container bog garden is in spring, as that is when it is warmer and the plants are starting to come back to life. Water can make it miserable in winter.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  12. This is a very helpful post.  With so many plants around it’s next to impossible to find the right one. This group that you presented especially  since the emphasis on most plants is to not over water while yours is on extra moisture. I have hostas on the shady side of my house and they do very well year in and out.
    Thanks for this opportunity!

    1. Hi Nathaniel

      Thank you for stopping by and for commenting. I always like to give both sides of the argument when talking about plants. I realise that not everybody has water feature in full sun, so will struggle with plant selection, These articles cover both sides and I am glad you got something out of it.

      Kind regards

      Antonio

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