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?


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
1 rating

Tuesday - April 17, 2007

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Central Texas plants for dry partial shade
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in Austin Texas. My front garden area has rocky dry soil with intermittent sunlight and shade, maybe 2 to 4 hours of sunlight a day. Herbs do great. What perennial flowers (for some color) will work? I (of course) am looking for maximum bloom time. I am also open to other suggestions to spice up the garden (perhaps something that is not a flower). Also, my friend has given me some iris to plant. She doesn't know what specific type they are but grew them in dry conditions in Concord Oregon with sporadic sun and said they did well. Is it possible they could work in the space I mentioned above?


Below are some suggestions for Central Texas plants that will do well in dry, partial shade:

Perennial herbaceous plants:

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot)

Ruellia nudiflora (violet wild petunia)

Salvia engelmannii (Engelmann's sage)

Salvia roemeriana (cedar sage)

Tradescantia occidentalis (prairie spiderwort)

Wedelia texana (hairy wedelia)

Shrub or shrublike:

Calylophus berlandieri ssp. pinifolius (Berlandier's sundrops)

Erythrina herbacea (coralbean)

Leucophyllum frutescens (cenizo)

Pavonia lasiopetala (Rose pavonia)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Sophora secundiflora (mountain laurel)

Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush)

Grass or grasslike:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Indian woodoats)

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)


Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't know why your friend's iris shouldn't grow just fine in your yard, unless the Texas heat is too much for it.


Melampodium leucanthum

Ruellia nudiflora

Salvia engelmannii

Salvia roemeriana

Tradescantia occidentalis

Wedelia texana

Calylophus berlandieri ssp. pinifolius

Erythrina herbacea

Leucophyllum frutescens

Pavonia lasiopetala

Rhus virens

Sophora secundiflora

Tecoma stans

Chasmanthium latifolium

Eragrostis intermedia

Nolina texana



More Shade Tolerant Questions

Vine for shaded area in Austin
February 15, 2009 - Hi! I live in South Austin, and love my backyard. It is enclosed by chain-link fencing, and shrouded by (ack!) Hackberry trees. I would like to plant a vine on one fence to provide a privacy screen. T...
view the full question and answer

Plants for border garden in shade in Austin
March 15, 2009 - Need suggestion for what to plant in a border garden. We live in northwest Austin and the garden is north-facing and shaded. Currently are oleanders but they don't get enough sun. Also growing are...
view the full question and answer

Replacing mature Arizona Ash trees in Austin
August 26, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have 2 very large, very old Arizona Ash trees in my yard. I want to remove them and replace them with something like Cedar Elm or Chinquapin Oak. The problem is that they are t...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for Shaded North Slope in Ohio
January 03, 2013 - I have a shaded north hillside which needs erosion control plants. Mostly moss and very thin grass grows there now. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Competition between Horseherb and Chickweed
July 04, 2014 - Ok, sorry I did it wrong the 1st time!? I live in Houston, and I have chickens! I also have mass amounts of Horseherb, and I want to buy some chickweed seeds and plant it for my chickens! My question ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center