Plant brightens shady areas.

If you are looking for a ground cover to brighten a shady area, you might consider Lamium, a plant that carries an unfortunate common name, Dead Nettle. I have grown this plant on the east side of my house next to ajuga and in front of a sprawling Blue Rug Juniper.


Two years ago when we were having extreme drought, I let it get too dry and lost my perennial plant. I bought another last summer and it did well into the fall. When cold weather became intense it sort of disappeared and this spring it has come back with a spurt of growth. The recommended environment is full or part shade, planted in well drained, evenly moist soil. Amending the soil with peat or other moisture retaining additives will help get the plant established.


This superb performance enticed me to purchase additional plants for the south side of my house under a large yaupon holly bush that is pruned like a small tree and shades the center portion of a south facing bed. Another possible location could be to plant it in a hanging basket in a shady area. In addition to being attractive during the day, the light colored leaves are especially attention getting as dusk begins to fall.


Lamium maculatum is the horticultural name. Under normal circumstances the plant will grow to around 6 inches high and will spread between 12 and 24 inches in diameter. The plant in the photograph is pushing its 24 inch maximum size. The leaves are heart shaped and have silver and white overtones on a green background. In the spring there are insignificant blooms which may be pink, white, or yellow, depending on the cultivar.


‘Silver Beacon’ is a popular variety with pink flowers. Another is ‘White Nancy’ which is similar to ‘Silver Beacon’ but has white flowers. Two other choices with pink flowers are ‘Chequers’ and ‘Pink Pewter’.


Companion plants in addition to ajuga could be hosta, mondo grass, and various perennials such as ferns. It would look nice adjacent to a shade loving holly shrub.