Ultra Tough Plant Combo for Dry Shade

A classic woodland planting combination that's comprised of an ultra-tough, yet supremely handsome, trio of evergreen plants. This fantastic ground-covering plant combo for shade, including dry shade, is drought-tolerant and seldom bothered by deer. It's a very low-maintenance planting scheme; a well-timed, once-a-year cut back in late winter of the Epimedium x rubrum and the native Western sword fern is all that's needed to keep this vignette looking its best. The cutback ensures that the delightfully complex, delicate spring blooms of the Epimedium can be enjoyed versus being hidden by last year's leaves. Removing the previous year's fronds just as the new are unfurling keeps the fern looking fresh. Mount Vernon dwarf English laurel is a selected variety of the ubiquitous laurel that's commonly used as hedging and appropriately maligned for its gluttonous consumption of space and rampant growth. Worry not, this Mount Vernon is a well-behaved dwarf, ground-covering variety that inherits the good traits and leaves the bad behind. Instead you get a rock-steady, tough-as-nails, good-looking groundcover that takes tough growing conditions in stride.

Growing Conditions

Zone: 6, 7, 8
Exposure: Open Shade, Deep Shade, Filtered Sun, Full Shade, Morning Sun, Part Shade
Water Needs: Drought-tolerant, Low

Design Considerations

Style: Asian Influenced, Formal, Naturalistic, Northwest Eclectic, Woodland
Features: Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Fabulous Foliage, Winter Interest
Focus: Year-round Interest, Curb Appeal, Mixed Border, Saving Water, Pleasing Seasonal Flow
Seasons of Interest: Fall, Winter, Pleasing Seasonal Changes, Three Seasons of Interest, Year-round Interest

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance Level: low

Plants In this Combo

  • Epimedium x rubrum

    Hybrid Epimedium, Red Epimedium

    Type: Groundcover
    Exposure: Full Shade, Part Shade, Deep Shade, Filtered Sun, Morning Sun, Open Shade
    Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

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  • Polystichum munitum

    Western Sword Fern

    Type: Fern, Groundcover
    Exposure: Part Sun, Full Shade, Part Shade, Deep Shade, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
    Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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  • Prunus laurocerasus 'Mount Vernon'

    Dwarf English Laurel

    Type: Groundcover, Shrub
    Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Full Shade, Part Shade, Deep Shade, Filtered Sun, Morning Sun, Open Shade
    Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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