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

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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

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