Plants I struggle with and what I use instead: Heuchera, Ajuga, Astilbe, and Dryopteris

Spring is a great time to go to the garden center and see the beautiful new plants that have arrived from the growers. This time of year I want to buy everything – the new cultivars and varieties, the new colors! But, I’ve learned that some plants just don’t work in my yard, and I’ve come up with alternatives that might not be quite as showy but make up for it with their toughness. Read on to learn about some of these great plants.

Heuchera sp. and Ajuga sp. – Coralbells and Bugleweed

Heuchera-foliageAjuga-in-flower

(Several colors of Heuchera foliage, and Ajuga in flower)

I love Heuchera, or rather, I love the idea of the Heuchera that I see in the garden center in my yard. Heuchera is a flowering perennial that comes in tons of colors from yellow to peach, chartreuse to purple. Unfortunately, every time I try Heuchera in my yard it just deteriorates – changing from the beautiful plant in the garden center to a sad perennial that limps by. I’m not sure what the issue is, I think it might be moisture and root competition, but in any case, I’ve given up on it, in my own yard. Ajuga, a low growing, evergreen groundcover is the plant that I have replaced it with. While Ajuga isn’t as showy in color, it is available in both dark purple and variegated varieties, it’s foliage is evergreen, and it flowers in spring. Additionally, Ajuga spreads, filling in gaps in other plants and tolerates my rooty soil.

Astilbe chinensis and Dryopteris erythrosora – False Spirea and Autumn Fern

Astilbe Autumn-fern

(Beautiful Astilbe in bloom and the reliable evergreen Autumn Fern)

Another plant that always impresses me in the garden center is Astilbe. When in bloom, you can’t beat the delicate, colorful flowers over frilly foliage. As with Heuchera, I’ve tried several cultivars in my yard, but without success. Dryopteris erythrosora – Autumn Fern is the plant that I’ve replaced it with. An evergreen fern with bronze new foliage, Autumn Fern lacks the flower display of Astilbe, but it is shade tolerant, tough, and it provides a similar texture, and deer resistance.

Being a gardener is about figuring out what works in your conditions, and which plants will perform well and contribute to a beautiful landscape. Need help selecting plants for your property? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at (919) 475-1015 or fill out our online contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!