Start With Soil Testing When Seeking to Grow Plants in Shady Areas

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    Woman Planting Container On Rooftop Garden
  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Bob in North Dakota needs some help trying to grow plants in shady areas. What can we do for you today?

    BOB: Ah, well, OK, I live in extreme Northeast North Dakota, about 35 miles south of the border. And what I’ve got is my house kind of faces – the sun tracks more behind my house. And the front of the house, I have the hardest time getting any plants to live. And I’ve gone to some of the home improvement stores around here and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, sure, that’ll grow, that’ll grow.” I’ve got a detached garage with a walking path that goes between my house. And I’ve put so many different types of plants in there and nothing seems to survive.

    So, I’m just curious, where can I really go that can really pinpoint the area that I live in to where I can find out what actual plants can I use to landscape?

    TOM: That’s a great question. The first thing that comes to mind, though, is have you tested your soil?

    BOB: No, I haven’t. I’m about to do that because I’ve got a garden that I’m going to test, too.

    TOM: OK. Yeah. I would definitely start there, just to make sure your soil is the right composition to support the growth. There are lots of plants that are designed to work in the shade, so I’m surprised that you’ve not had a – you’ve had so much difficulty trying to grow plants in shady areas. Up here, we use …

    BOB: I’ve even tried Hostas.

    TOM: Yeah, we …

    LESLIE: And Hostas are pretty good.

    TOM: Hostas and Pachysandras and plants like that.

    BOB: Yeah. And I cannot get them to flourish at all. They won’t get any bigger – I’ve got two that survived this year and they’re no bigger than a softball. And they never bloom.

    TOM: I tell you, I really – you’re having such a hard time trying to grow plants in shady areas, I really think there might be something with the soil. I would definitely test that and go from there.

    BOB: OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    BOB: But there, again, can you also give me an idea of where I can look up – that can really just pinpoint – I mean I’ve done the zone thing. But it’s just – we’re in the Red River Valley. We’ve got some of the most fertile soil in the world, you know? And I’m a farmer, too, so we grow crops all the time.

    TOM: Right.

    BOB: But man, I just cannot get anything to grow around my house.

    TOM: I tell you what. There’s a lot of content online for Red River Valley, North Dakota for planting. A lot. I don’t know if you’ve been searching through this.

    BOB: Really?

    TOM: Yeah. There’s a government package I saw.

    BOB: Yeah, yeah.

    TOM: There’s an association for temperate agroforestry that has a detailed report on deforestation along the Red River of the North in North Dakota. A lot of (inaudible).

    BOB: OK.

    TOM: Yeah. So I think if you search online – I just did plant zones for Red River Valley and your zip code and just found a boatload of info that might help in trying to grow plants in shady areas.

    BOB: Yeah. So, I guess soil testing is the place to go but hey, thanks for letting me know about the Red River Valley information. Because I’ll definitely look that up.

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