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

Wednesday - August 20, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Shady Container Plant for Austin
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I am looking for a tall plant/small shrub/ornamental grass for a very large pot that is placed against the north wall of our Austin home. That spot gets some morning sun in the summer, but virtually none in the winter. What do you recommend?

ANSWER:

Without knowing the exact size of your container, it is difficult to suggest an appropriate plant, but the Native Plant Database is a great resource to give you some possibilities to further investigate.

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants for your shady container 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.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: TX, Habit – Shrub, Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Shade, Soil Moisture – Dry, and Size – 3-12 feet. Once you have looked over the shrubs from this list, change the category to grasses and then trees.

Some of the plants to consider from this search are:
 
Grasses
Setaria scheelei (Southwestern bristlegrass)
Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Shrubs for dry soils
Elaeagnus commutata (Silverberry)
Forestiera pubsescens (Stretchbery)
Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush)
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk’s cap)
Rhus aromatic (Fragrant sumac)
Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac)
Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto)
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (Mapleleaf viburnum)
Viburnum rafinesquianum (Downy arrowwood)

Shrubs for wet soils
Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush)
Clethra alnifolia (Coastal sweet pepperbush)
Viburnum dentatum (Southern arrowwood)
Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides (Withe-rod)

Trees
Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry)

 

From the Image Gallery


Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Southwestern bristlegrass
Setaria scheelei

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

Elbow bush
Forestiera pubescens

Northern spicebush
Lindera benzoin

Turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Mapleleaf viburnum
Viburnum acerifolium

Downy arrowwood
Viburnum rafinesqueanum

More Shrubs Questions

Evergreen shrub for Austin TX
February 28, 2015 - I am wanting an evergreen shrub 6-8 ft tall to use as a screen in our backyard. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Are beautyberry bushes toxic to horses?
October 12, 2011 - Are beautyberry bushes toxic to horses?
view the full question and answer

Limiting erosion around pond from Brooklyn Park MN
May 20, 2013 - Minnesota resident, wants to find plant limit erosion from pond?
view the full question and answer

Selecting a tree for a backyard in San Antonio, TX
May 11, 2013 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently moved into a home in West San Antonio right outside Loop 1604..my treeless backyard is fairly small at about 55 ft long and 15 ft wide. I am torn because I can't ...
view the full question and answer

Planting Flame Acanthus in Texas
August 06, 2015 - I recently purchased three flame acanthus in 1 qt. pots. I had planned to hold these in a shaded spot for planting once it cools off, but the plants are 2 1/2 to 3 ft. tall. Should I cut them back, pl...
view the full question and answer

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