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Actaea racemosa

The perfect plant for adding summer drama to the shade garden, cimicifuga bears white, candle-like flowers on plants that can reach 7 feet tall. Even when not in bloom, its fine-textured foliage adds interest, especially when paired with hostas. This plant is native to areas of North America.

Note: You may sometimes see Cimicifuga listed as the botanical name because botanists have reclassified it as Actaea. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter.


Part Sun, Shade



3 to 8 feet


1-3 feet wide

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plant Cimicifuga with
Yellow wax-bells

Yellow wax-bells offer a stunning change of pace for fall gardens. The plant's dramatic dark stems are clothed with handsome 8-inch lobed leaves. From late summer into fall, nodding clusters of pale yellow, waxy bell flowers arise. Provide a sheltered position out of the wind where the soil is high in humus and retains moisture.


Hydrangea, a shade-loving beauty, offers huge bouquets of clustered flowers, in various arrangements from mophead to lacecap, from summer through fall. Varieties of hydrangea differ in size of plant and flower panicle, flower color, and blooming time. PeeGee hydrangeas grow into small trees; the flowers turn russet and cling into winter. Oakleaf hydrangeas have the most handsome foliage, which reddens dramatically in fall. Some of the newer hydrangeas feature huge flowers on compact plants, ideal for containers and small gardens. Hydrangeas thrive in a moist, fertile, well-drained soil in partial to full shade. If you're seeking blue hydrangea flowers, check your soil's pH level and apply aluminum sulfate in spring to lower pH to the 5.2-5.5 range. The change in hydrangea flower color results from lower pH and higher aluminum content in the soil. Get tips on pruning hydrangeas for more blooms. Learn more on how to care for hydrangeas.


This plant hardly grown 40 years ago is now one of the most commonly grown garden plants. But hosta has earned its spot in the hearts of gardeners -- it's among the easiest plants to grow, as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall.Hostas vary from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to massive 4-foot clumps with heart-shape leaves almost 2 feet long that can be puckered, wavy-edged, white or green variegated, blue-gray, chartreuse, emerald-edged -- the variations are virtually endless. Hostas in new sizes and touting new foliage features seem to appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plaintain lily, blooms with white or purplish lavender funnel-shape or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slug and deer.

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