Selecting plants for the landscape, border gardens, hedges and specimens requires more than knowing their appearance, the type of soil they prefer and how well they grow next other plants. More than any other factor, how much sunlight a plant requires is a defining factor when choosing plants for your landscape or garden. You can always adjust pH and fertilizer, but moving the shade away from plants that like full sun is usually not an option.
A climbing vine with many cultivars, clematis can climb up to 30 feet or more if not kept in check. Choosing between a few varieties provides for flowers all summer long and into the fall. Listed as a full sun plant, clematis prefers to keep its base fully shaded. This perennial vine will grow more slowly in full dappled shade, but do just fine there. Mulch the roots and give it a trellis to climb on and clematis will thrive in dappled shade to full sun throughout USDA Zones 3-9.
Snow in Summer
This hardy perennial flower is usually a short, mat-forming plant that grows to about 8 inches tall. Late spring or early summer blooming, it fills in well between other plants, making it a good choice for containers and perennial beds. It should be trimmed back after flowering to keep it neat. Easy to plant either as a seed or seeding, snow in summer prefers full sun but will do well in light shade as well. Hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9.
The spider flower is a native of South America and prefers warm summers. A half-hardy annual blooming in white, pink or unusual purples, this flower loves full sun and grows up to 4 feet tall. This plant self-seeds freely so pick off seed capsules before they open to keep the plant from spreading. Start indoors eight weeks before last the frost date and plant out two weeks after. "Spider flower" is the common name for Cleome.
A member of the Cyperus family, umbrella grass is not a true grass but a grasslike plant. In USDA Zones 9 to 11, it is a perennial and will survive the winter. Farther north, it is used as a decorative annual that grows very quickly. Umbrella grass doesn't like being divided or moved and should be planted in full sun at its permanent location. The green, grasslike foliage grows up to 24 inches high in mounded clumps.
This shrub is commonly used in landscapes throughout USDA Zones 4 to 8. Dark green foliage in spring through summer, burning bush literally flames with color in the fall when its leaves turn a bright red. Unchecked, the plant can grow as high as 10 feet, although some varieties are shorter. Plant in full sun with similar-sized plants for an informal hedge, contrasting fall color or as a specimen plant at the back of the border.