Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Wildlife Gardens Questions

Need plants beneficial or attractive to bees in Dripping Springs, TX
January 27, 2014 - Can you provide a specific list of plants beneficial or attractive to honey bees in the Texas Hill Country (we raise bees in Dripping Springs, TX.) Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Little birds for Little Rock
March 21, 2005 - I would like to plant flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies like. I live in Little Rock, Arkansas. What do you suggest?
view the full question and answer

Interested in a mini food forest
February 04, 2013 - I am interested in starting a mini "food forest" in a twelve foot by twelve foot patch of earth next to my house. I'd like to put a focus on making sure that the bulk of the plants I introduce are ...
view the full question and answer

Keeping bugs out of a Texas home
June 29, 2015 - I'm slowly growing my gardens into natural habitats for birds, bees, butterflies and other little critters but would like to keep them outside of my house. Being in central Texas it is difficult to ...
view the full question and answer

Bird-friendly plants for the Texas coast
July 13, 2012 - I'm interested in starting a native plant garden, specifically with an eye towards providing food (either from the plants or insects that are attracted to the plants) for migratory birds. However, s...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.