These plants have it made in the shade

Shade becomes very important in our heat, but having too much shade might eventually kill some plants. It becomes a real problem as bare spots become more prominent.

With this in mind, come to our "Shade Loving Plants for Shady Gardens" tour at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and July 29 at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. Visit for more information.

You'll find that larger and darker-leafed plants tolerate more shade than needled or light-colored plants. We must remember all plants need light so sometimes rocks may be the only landscaping choice. Here's a short list of plants that grow in shady areas.

Dwarf ruellia: It's a low-growing perennial with long, narrow, dark green leaves. This prolific bloomer produces large tubular flowers from spring until frost. It does well in partial shade and makes an excellent choice for containers.

Jerusalem sage: This Mediterranean native has proved itself in our valley. It gets waist-high and produces eye-catching whorls of bright yellow flowers.

Ajuga: It's an excellent, showy ground hugger with dark-green, spoon-shaped leaves that become purplish as the weather cools. In the spring, blue flowers cover ankle-high spikes. Plant them along walkways between steppingstones and patios because it tolerates foot traffic.

Twin-flowered agave: It has great versatility, tolerating exposures from full sun to full shade. It is an accent plant forming a dense, symmetrical rosette of narrow, dark-green leaves. In shady exposures, the leaves relax to form a soft silhouette. At the end of its life cycle, the plant develops a tall flower spike and then dies.

Mexican honeysuckle: This evergreen shrub has large, oval, velvety leaves. Bright orange tubular clusters of flowers decorate it during summer. It performs best in filtered sun.

Burford holly: Its pointed dark and always polished leaves are extremely handsome. At Christmastime, bright red berries become the show. It requires shade or the leaves will burn.

Cat's-claw: Its cat's-claw-type tendrils cling to walls, climbing high, wide and fast and making beautiful patterns on shaded walls and ceilings. Semiglossy leaves evenly space themselves along the vine, and yellow trumpet flowers perfume the yard in the spring.

Creeping dalea: It sneaks up on you, developing a billowing low-growing shrub with gray leaves and reddish stems. Lavender flowers cover the plant from spring into summer. It resists rabbits.

Creeping fig vine: During its young stages, it gives little indication of its potential vigor. Delicate, tiny, heart-shaped leaves wallpaper walls and ultimately develop into large, leathery leaves. To get the most out of this vine, plant it in a rich soil

Gold dust plant: It looks like painters splashed gold dust paint on its leathery, large, evergreen leaves. It's compact, becoming a valuable option for small gardens. In the fall, bright red berries become the show. It does well in containers, and pruning keeps it dense. The leaves burn with too much sun.

Japanese aralia: It's a large shrub with tropical, fan-shaped huge leaves edged with creamy white star shapes. It adapts well to containers. Candelabralike stalks bear golf-ball-sized heads of creamy flowers, soon followed by clusters of shiny, black fruit making a striking impact in shaded entryways. Protect it from the wind.

Japanese aucuba: It is often seen growing in shaded areas. It gets tall, so it needs frequent grooming. Its shiny leaves have yellow-white margins. Its purplish-blue flowers show up in the early spring. It does well in containers. This versatile plant fills a landscape with color, shape and texture all year.

Periwinkle: It grows best under shaded conditions and even in full sun. It eventually forms a solid mat, crawling over rocks and mounds. Its purplish flowers look like spinning cartwheels.

Philodendron: It's an amazingly tough tropical-looking species for shady conditions. It gets tall if not given support. Its leaves can exceed 3 feet in width.

Podocarpus: It is Las Vegas' answer to the yews of colder climates with soft, needlelike leaves. It does well in shaded areas and under eves. With its distinct columnar shape, it does exceptionally well in narrow spaces, planters or on patios. Emerging lime-green foliage makes a striking contrast with the older foliage in the spring and fall.

Sago palm: It's really not a palm but resembles one. Leaves fit closely together growing slowly, meaning this plant rarely needs transplanting. New growth appears each spring and slows through summer with no growth through winter. It will survive many years in small pots.

Linn Mills' garden column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at or 702-526-1495