I have a northeast-facing patio that gets descent sun, I am wondering which flowers and herbs will do best there from fall to winter?
Hardiness Zone: 5b
Erika from Boulder, CO
It depends on what you mean by "decent sun." How many hours of full sun does your patio get each day? It's largely recommended that most herbs receive at least 6 full hours of sun per day to fully develop their leaves and flowers, although many can grow successfully with less. The same is true to sun-loving flowers. When you read plant labels, full sun equals 8 hours and partial sun equals between 4-8 hours. Your northeast exposure probably has the advantage of some morning sun. This is better than afternoon sun because the sooner in the day a plant's biological processes get started, the more time they have to take advantage of existing light to produce food.
Herbs like Lemon Balm, Chives, Sweet Woodruff and Rosemary grow well in shade to partial sun. Some annuals that might do well for you include begonia, coleus, impatiens, forget-me-nots and pansy. Perennials you might try include astilbe, bugbane, coral bells, foxglove, Virginia blue bells, hosta and phlox. You actually have quite a few options and will probably need to experiment a little to see what grows best.
Again, it really depends on the number of hours of sun your patio receives each day. If eves or overhangs shade your patio there isn't much you can do to increase the amount of light you're patio receives. If nearby trees are shading your patio, however, thinning a bit of the canopy can open up the space and give you even more sun. If your planting in containers, consider putting them on stands with castors so you can easily roll your plants around the patio to capture available sunlight as needed.
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Herbs > sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil
Flowers > impatients, petunias, asparagas fern, alysyum, marigolds
If you're a newby gardener, these are fool proof. Do yourself a favor, use Miracle Grow potting soil, the results are amazing, and worth the few extra $$ it costs over regular potting mix. Also make sure you put a good layer of gravel in the bottom of your pots to allow for drainage and air circulation. Good Luck
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