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?

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
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
2 ratings

Friday - January 11, 2008

From: Western, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Landscaping with wildflowers in shade in Maryland
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I'm an old White House Correspondent who covered LBJ as well as Mrs Johnson and knew and admired her. I visited the Wildflower Center with her on one occasion. I hope you will forward this to an appropriate expert. I want to plant wildflowers in a wooded section of my back yard that has very little sun. I can't grow grass there but there is some English Ivy and vinca. However it's pretty scraggily in appearance. I'd like to have some delicate wildflowers to add color and life to that section, about 40 by 90 feet. The soil is somewhat rocky and slopes. I would like low maintenance flowers, ones that will not overrun my entire yard, just that one area. The rest of the back yard is done in single-shredded red oak mulch and looks very nice. Can you advise or put me in touch with a specialist?

ANSWER:

In our experience, trying to plan a landscape without knowing about the soils, climate, moisture, etc. is difficult and usually not too productive. So, first, we want to urge you to stick to native plants, not just native to North America, but to your area of the country. They will need less care, less water, and less fertilizer, plus they are not likely to become invasive and overrun other parts of the garden. Then, we want to give you some information that hopefully will assist you in selection of the plants that will fit your criteria and finding sources for them and, if you feel you need them, landscape planners who specialize in native plants.

To begin, follow this link to our "How To Articles" and read the ones of interest to you. Next, go to our Combination Search page, and make the appropriate selections to get information and pictures on plants native to your area. We would urge you to consider not just wildflowers, but other plants, such as shrubs and grasses, to fill this very large space. A field of waving wildflowers in May is gorgeous; in November, it's a bunch of dead weeds. You will want something else to give shape, texture and color to your garden when there are no wildflowers blooming.

Finally, go to our Native Plant Suppliers site, and ask for a list of Maryland businesses that supply native plants and/or have on-staff experts that can better advise you on what you need to do than we can.

Just to give you an example of some of the plants you can learn about on our Native Plants Database, we used the Combination Search for Maryland and picked out three plants that happen to be our favorites, too.

Herb (annual or perennial flowers) Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Shrub Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Grass or grasslike Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

 


Asclepias tuberosa

Callicarpa americana

Bouteloua curtipendula

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Annabelle hydrangeas blossoms drooping to ground in Wilmette, IL
April 10, 2011 - I have a row of Annabelle Hydrangeas that become very heavy and droop over the entire width of the bed. I would like to know what I can use for support so that they will stand up and allow me to plan...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for rock garden under large oak
October 02, 2012 - I am planning a small rock garden under a large oak tree. I would like a spreading evergreen ground cover that will grow in the shade. Drought-tolerant would be preferred as I live in the high plains...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a shady spot in Illinois
April 16, 2010 - I live in a new development in Huntley, IL. I am looking for native trees, shrubs, plants and/or flowers to plant on the North side of my house. Fairly shaded. Hopefully something attractive and co...
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady sand in Florida
March 31, 2013 - We live in central Florida (directly between Orlando and Tampa). Our yard is mostly sand for soil and difficult parts in shade almost all day from large trees. What ground cover (grass) and hedges can...
view the full question and answer

Need evergreen hedge and groundcover for shade in Carmel, Indiana
September 27, 2010 - Our property is bounded by a fencerow that is wooded and mostly shaded by mulberry and hackberry trees during the growing months. We'd like to create a 5'+ tall evergreen barrier on the property li...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center