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
9 ratings

Monday - January 21, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Texas natives that are shade tolerant for Austin, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for Texas native plants that are shade tolerant....specifically agaves (How about the Century Agave and the Queen Victoria Agave?) and something to add a splash of color (like bulbine, columbine, skull cap, penstemon, texas betony, and twist leaf yuccas). Your comments and suggestions would be much appreciated!

ANSWER:

Why don't we start with your plant suggestions and if those don't fill your requirement of shade-tolerant Texas natives, we'll dig a little deeper. (Excuse that, gardener joke)

First of all, with the possible exception of Agave americana (American century plant), which can tolerate some light shade, all of the agaves are listed as requiring sun. The Agave victoria-reginae does not appear on our Native Plants Database but we did find the website link above with some information on it. However, it appears that it is native to the Chihuahuan desert at elevations of 4000-5000 feet and may be considered a protected species.

The Bulbine frutescens not only is not native to Texas, it isn't native to North America, which is the main focus of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It is a native of South Africa and the above website can give you some information, including the fact that it can tolerate some light shade.

There are a number of Columbines that are native or distributed in Texas. Probably the toughest and best-flowering of these is Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana (Hinckley's golden columbine), which requires some shade.

Of the 22 species of skullcap, we found these that were both native to Texas and admitted to needing shade to part shade: Scutellaria ovata (heartleaf skullcap), Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata (heartleaf skullcap), Scutellaria resinosa (sticky skullcap), and Scutellaria wrightii (Wright's skullcap).

When we went hunting for penstemon, there were 115 possibilities when we searched the database. We picked four that require shade to part shade, and are Texas natives. If you need more choices, go to the Native Plant Database and use the Combination Search to see what others interest you. The ones we chose are: Penstemon ambiguus (gilia beardtongue), Penstemon baccharifolius (baccharisleaf beardtongue), Penstemon cardinalis (cardinal beardtongue), and Penstemon cobaea (cobaea beardtongue).

Finally, Stachys coccinea (scarlet hedgenettle) (Texas Betony) and Yucca pallida (twistleaf yucca are both Texas natives needing sun to shade.

So, you have a pretty good list. There are no doubt many, many more that will suit your requirements. Just keep adjusting your search characteristics in the Native Plant Database, and you'll hopefully find everything you want.


Agave americana

Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana

Scutellaria ovata

Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata

Scutellaria resinosa

Scutellaria wrightii

Penstemon ambiguus

Penstemon baccharifolius

Penstemon cardinalis

Penstemon cobaea

Stachys coccinea

Yucca pallida

 















 

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Evergreen flowering shrub for San Antonio, TX
May 20, 2013 - Need a suggestion for an evergreen flowering bush, 3 ft tall for shady area by front door. Have gardenia bushes there now - did well until we had a hard freeze and have struggled ever since. Ideas ple...
view the full question and answer

Understory shrub for shady area in San Antonio
December 03, 2008 - We would like to plant a small understory tree/shrub in an odd space that our new deck has created between our fence line and the house. A mature mountain laurel would be our dream but I think there ...
view the full question and answer

Prairie wattle for woodland area in Austin
November 29, 2009 - Can prairie wattle be grown in a woodland area? It would get part shade, with full sun for at least half a day. The soil is a bit rocky; location is Austin.
view the full question and answer

Austin Shade Plants for Pots
March 28, 2010 - I live in a condo in Austin Texas so I don't have any flower beds or yard space. I would like to put a few large pots of plants and flowers on my front patio but it's mostly shaded during the day. W...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade, poor soil in Park Ridge NJ
June 17, 2010 - Hello! I live in far northeast New Jersey, by the New York state border. I am looking for plants for areas of my lawn that nothing currently grows in - due to shade and poor soil quality - very rocky,...
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