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Wednesday - October 31, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shade-loving plants for a long, narrow bed.
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We are installing a bed with a student-made sculpture dedicated to mothers at our high school in Austin, Texas. The bed is against the two-story school, east facing,and shaded by cedar elm. What can we plant in this long shallow bed that can a thrive in so little light? I was thinking of beauty berry, which has done well under live oak. What else? Groundcover and shrubs. White avens? Cedar Sedge?


Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you have several very attractive choices for your bed. For example:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) and Malvaviscus arboreus (Turk's cap) both grow very well in the shade. They both lose their leaves in the wintertime, however, and the Turk's cap essentially dies to the ground to resprout from the roots in the spring.

Geum canadense (white avens) and the sedges [Carex planostachys (cedar sedge) and Carex texensis (Texas sedge)] should do nicely in the shade and are evergreen.

There are a couple of native grasses (Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) and Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) that grow well in the shade and have foliage and seed heads that are attractive even after the grasses have died.

Another evergreen possibility is Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) and two low groundcovers that grow in the shade, Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) and Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit), and both are evergreen in mild winters.

Finally, both Salvia coccinea (blood sage) and Ruellia nudiflora (violet wild petunia) are happy in the shade, bloom over a long period and retain their foliage well into the winter.

Callicarpa americana

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Geum canadense

Carex texensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Sabal minor

Calyptocarpus vialis

Phyla nodiflora

Salvia coccinea

Ruellia nudiflora





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