En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 03, 2014

From: Apex, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Wildlife Gardens, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Wildlife Attracting Plants for a Shady Patio
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We have a concrete patio that receives 2-3 hours of sunlight a day, so the only plants we will be able to grow will be in container. We are looking for plants that do well in shade, and containers and will not grow too large. Plants that attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, birds, etc. are preferrable.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential shade plants attractive to wildlife for your patio is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: NC, Habit – shrub (and then herb), Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Shade, Soil Moisture – Dry, and Size – 1-3 feet.

Surprisingly, more shrubs tolerant of shade and with benefits for wildlife appeared as a result of the search. The shrubs to consider are:
Running serviceberry (Amelanchier stolonifera), white spring flowers and edible fruit. Fruit attracts birds.

Limber honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica), a shrub-like vine, fragrant red and yellow blooms, red berries in the fall, attracts hummingbirds and bees.

Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), a small mounding shrub growing to 4 feet, small greenish-white flowers and clusters of attractive coral-pink berries from fall into the winter. Wildlife use this plant for food, cover and nesting sites.

And a herbaceous plant to consider:
Bowman’s root (Gillenia trifoliata), an informal perennial growing to 2-3 feet tall with white or pinkish flowers in the spring. Tolerant of dry shade. Low wildlife value.

 

From the Image Gallery


Running serviceberry
Amelanchier stolonifera

Running serviceberry
Amelanchier stolonifera

Limber honeysuckle
Lonicera dioica

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Bowman's root
Gillenia trifoliata

Bowman's root
Gillenia trifoliata

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Grasses for shady areas
November 24, 2013 - I would like to know which grasses would grow in mostly shady part of the house.
view the full question and answer

Plants for water park
January 03, 2013 - Hi, I usually have no problem locating the right species for a given situation, but I may need some advice for this. I am looking for plants -- from annual & perennial flowers to shrubs and small t...
view the full question and answer

Hibiscus to grow in partial shade in North Carolina
September 25, 2009 - What variety of hibiscus can I plant in Lexington, NC? Are there any variaties that tolerate partial shade?
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for shady slope in Kentucky backyard
August 28, 2013 - I live in northern Kentucky (near Cincinnati). I have an area in my backyard that has slope. It is next to an ash tree and is very shady. Water erosion has washed away the top soil and pretty much no...
view the full question and answer

Need mowable ground cover for shady area under trees in Lake Charles, LA.
July 12, 2010 - I live in Southwest Louisiana. I have a large portion of my back yard that is very shady because I have large trees in the yard. The area dries up fairly quickly after a heavy rain, so it isn't extre...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center