Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Vines for a shady porch in Oregon
February 22, 2010 - My husband and I just bought our first home this fall in St. Johns, Portland. We would like to grow a vine on our front porch, but it is in full shade. It faces north east. We planted some jasmine vin...
view the full question and answer

Large shrub for screen in shade
June 11, 2008 - I am trying to find some large shrubs that will thrive in shade in the north Texas climate. This area will receive very little light during the day but need to grow quite large to hide a fence and cr...
view the full question and answer

Interaction of Habiturf and St. Augustine grasses from Willow City TX
April 16, 2012 - How does Habiturf and St. Augustine interact? Does one dominate the other? Can you plant them in close areas? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plant for part sun in Nampa Idaho
May 20, 2010 - What could I plant in arid SW Idaho on the northwest side of my house along a border against the house? Most of the day this area is in shade, but at the hottest time of the day it gets a couple of h...
view the full question and answer

Screen plants for part shade in Smithville, TX
February 23, 2010 - Thank you very much for your reply to my question about planting bamboo. I had no idea it was so invasive. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for me. My goal is to provide a soft an...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.