Theodore Klein Plant Awards

Shade Perennials

Below you’ll find the Shade Perennials that have received the honor of “Theodore Klein Plant Award” in alphabetical order based on its Latin name.

Aralia cordata
‘Sun King’

Outstanding, yellow-leafed perennial that works like a shrub in the landscape. Growing up to 4’ tall and wide, it works best in light shade or morning sun/afternoon shade. White summer flowers are modestly showy and produce gleaming black fruits in late summer/early fall that contrast beautifully with the bright foliage.

Asarum canadense
Wild Ginger

The fuzzy grey-green, heart shaped leaves of wild ginger form a stunning mat of foliage up to about 8” tall. It is an excellent groundcover choice for any shady garden where it aggressively crowds out weeds. Small brown flowers form under the leaves in spring.

Lady Fern

A vigorous, clumping hybrid fern with gracefully upright arching fronds in a light grey/green. Works best in filtered light to medium shade in any reasonable soil. Works well in the garden as a single specimen or in large masses.

Athyrium nipponicum
var pictum

Excellent if somewhat variable shade fern that has silvery white markings on the upper side of the fronds. Spreads to form a large mass in the garden where it can shade/crowd out weeds. Easy to grow and many delightful cultivars on the market.

‘Ice Dance’

Outstanding evergreen groundcover that makes 15″-tall masses of broad, grass-like leaves edged in creamy white. Extremely vigorous and durable in sun and shade. Deer proof. Few pests. May be a bit too agressive for mixed planting with less vigorous perennials.

Carex oshimensis
Golden Sedge

Arching, grass-like foliage mounds of bright yellow, this durable evergreen sedge works well in ground beds or containers. Brightest color in full sun. Fades to a still-effective yellow green in shady sites. Highly resistant to deer browse. One of the best performing sedges in Yew Dell’s trials

Dryopteris x australis
Dixie Wood Fern

This 3’-4′-tall, upright arching fern is one of the best choices for specimen or mass planting. It works well in any shaded site with a good garden soil. Vigorous grower that is not browsed by deer and has few other insect or pest problems. An easy to grow fern.

This is a naturally occurring hybrid of Dryopteris celsa and D. ludoviciana

Fairy Wings
‘Spine Tingler’ and ‘Sandy Claws’

These two outstanding selections form low, spreading, semi-evergreen shade plants with unique, spine-edge leaves and delicate spring flowers. ‘Spine Tingler’ offers yellow flowers held above foliage to about 8” tall while ‘Sandy Claws’ grows to about 15” tall with white/yellow flowers. Highly resistant to deer/rabbit browse.

Epimedium x versicolor

This herbaceous perennial groundcover is an outstanding plant for shaded sites. Glossy foliage to about 8″ tall, grows into slowly spreading mats that bear delicate yellow flowers above the foliage in spring. Easy to grow with few pests, the cultivar ‘Sulphureum’ was selected for bright yellow flower color and vigorous growth. Tolerant of dry shade but best with a little moisture.

Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae
Wood Spurge

This evergreen, pest-resistant groundcover is excellent for any shady garden and even works well in dry shade. It produces a dense carpet of deep green, slightly glossy foliage with bright chartreuse spring flowers. Spreads slowly in dry shade but in good soil and moderate moisture it is a rapid spreader.

Be careful of white, milky sap in stems as it can be a skin and/or eye irritant.

Hakonechloa macra
Japanese Forest Grass
‘All Gold’

Stunning mound of arching, fine textured foliage that works well as a single specimen or a mass planting. This selection has intense yellow foliage in full sun, fading to a bright yellow/green in the shade. It is the most vigorous of all the Hakonechloa cultivars on the market. Provide supplemental irrigation during dry spells in full sun situations

Hakonechloa macra
Japanese Forest Grass

This wonderful grass forms graceful, arching masses of bright gold and green streaked foliage that pairs well with hostas, ferns and other shade garden plants.. Best in bright sun with adequate soil moisture and equally at home in light shade where the color will be a bit more subdued. Easy to grow.

‘All Gold’ is a very vigorous selection with leaves of all gold rather than the green/gold streaked foliage of ‘Aureola’

Helleborus x hybridus
Lenten Rose

This evergreen herbaceous perennial is the star of the winter shade garden. Mounds of glossy green foliage bear heavy crops of flowers from January through early April in shades from white to pink, burgundy, yellow, apricot and almost black. They are not browsed by deer, have few pest/disease problems and love the shade. Excellent cut flowers as well..

Heuchera villosa var. macrorhiza
Coral Bells
‘Autumn Bride’

Outstanding, green leafed coral bells selection with a low mound of fuzzy green foliage topped in fall with 2′-tall wiry stems with delicate white flowers. Incredibly drought tolerant, works well in shade or part sun and very easy to grow.

Ophiopogon umbraticola
Chinese Mondo Grass

This diminutive evergreen groundcover or pocket perennial forms delicate mounds of threadlike foliage to abotu 8″ high and spreading slowly. In mid summer, plants produce small sprays of clear white blooms followed by dark cobalt blue fruit. Durable and easy to grow plant.

Formerly sold under the name O. chingii.

Phlox divaricata
Woodland Phlox
‘Blue Moon’, ‘May Breeze’

This well-behaved, spreading groundcover forms loose mats of fine-textured foliage that is covered with lightly fragrant, blue/lavender to rose/pink flowers in spring. Fairly drought tolerant once established, the only care needed is an occasional cut back to refresh foliage in mid-summer. Deer resistant and easy to grow. ‘May Breeze’ is an excellent selection with white flowers that can age to a pale purple. ‘Blue Moon’ is generally considered one of the best blue selections.

Polygonatum odoratum
Polygonatum odoratum

An outstanding woodland herbaceous perennial that forms slowly spreading colonies of gracefully arching stems. Spring flowers are small, lightly fragrant bells that hang below the stems and foliage. A perfect partner with hostas, ferns and other shade plants, this is a long lived and problem free plant. The selection ‘Variegatum’ has white streaked leaves that provide a nice contrast all through the growling season.

Polysticum acrosticoides
Christmas Fern

Easy to grow evergreen fern for the shade garden. Growing 12″-24″ tall and wide, its slightly leathery foliage starts out spring fairly upright and gradually relaxes to the ground through the winter. Deer browse resistant.

Blue Lungwort
‘Trevi Fountain’

The best cultivar for warm climates, this selection forms a 1’ tall by 2’ wide mass of deep green foliage with bright silver spots. In spring the foliage is covered with intense blue flowers. In summer the foliage retains excellent quality unlike many other cultivars that wilt and wither in the heat of the South.

Rohdea japonica
Sacred Lily

This uncommon, evergreen perennial is one of the most overlooked hardy foliage plants available. Long, strap-like evergreen leaves form small clumps that increase slowly. The orange fruit is showy all fall and winter. Somewhat slow growing but durable, resistant to deer browse and tough as nails.

There are many variegated selections that can be quite stunning (and expensive!) in the garden.

Spigelia marilandica
Indian Pink

This low, mounded perennial is best known for its brilliant red flowers in spring. Typically found as a woodland wildflower, this one performs even better in full sun as long as it has adequate moisture. Excellent hummingbird plant and an easy care garden plant.

Tiarella cordifolia
Foam Flower
‘Running Tapestry’

This fabulous North American native herbaceous groundcover is perfect for the shade garden. Growing to about 10” tall, its bright green leaves are flecked with deep red through the summer and the color intensifies after fall frost. Spikes of clear white flowers cover plants in spring. Avoid dry soils.

Explore the other categories of plants that have been named recipients of the Theodore Klein Plant Awards:

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