Here I will describe how we turned a thorny mess into a nursary for shade plants.
The basic steps are:
- Clear an area
- Identify the plants you want
- Identify the plants you do not want (weeds)
Note: The photos were all taken in the early morning. It is normally a shady area.
Note: There are (probably) rules about transplanting native plants. All of this is on my own property, so it is okay.
Warning: Some of these plants are regulated as invasive or noxious weeds.
Step 1: Find a Good Spot
Ours is built near a swing set, a few feet into the woods. It is the former site of a large compost pile.
Step 2: Identify Plants to Grow
The main plants I am growing are:
In the next few steps I will describe how to raise each of these.
Step 3: Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema Triphyllum)
They are weird and very delicate plants. If you find some growing, mark the spot and come back in the late full or winter. The plants retreat into small corns (sort of like a hard mushroom). If you carefully dig these up (they are usually just below the soil line) you can either save them to plant in the spring, or imediatly transplant to a nursery area.
The young plants have just 3 leaves and look a bit like poison ivy. As the plants get larger they have the small leaves and a second stalk with the distinctive jack-in-the-pulpet flower. When they are mature plants they emerge from the ground as large purple spikes wich unferuall into pretty big plants.
Here is more information from
Step 4: Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra)
Bleeding hearts have lots of seed pods. I have tried collecting the seeds and then planting them elsewhere, this has had poor results. It is easier to keep the area under the pods weed free with some exposed soil. The following spring there will be lots of little plants
I don't know the exact species, but this one is usually available in garden centers. It is not a native plant.
Step 5: Transplanting a Tiny Bleeding Heart
They should be planted in rich, loose soil. All but the stem should be covered in loose leaves and pine needles. Otherwise it will wash away, or dry out.
Step 6: Hostas
They are rather popular -- here is a link to the American Hosta Society
Also, not a native New England plant.
Step 7: Bishops Weed (Aegopodium Podagraria)
This is considered an invasive species -- it is prohibited in Massachusetts - However we have spots where nothing, including this, will grow.
Here are lists of invasive and noxius weeds from the USDA
Step 8: Weeds
This is ground ivy, it is a nice plant, but it will crowd out all other plant life. In the spring it can grow, seed, and regrow before other plants are up.
Step 9: Ground Ivy
Step 10: Mustard Garlic (Alliaria Petiolata)
Step 11: Aloe-ish Plant
It has tiny shallow roots, so it is easy too pull up.
It is like an allo plant, we used to but the goo on bug bites.
They have orange flowers and when mature, the seed pods explode.