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
1 rating

Sunday - June 15, 2008

From: Tallmadge, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Flowering plants for shade in Ohio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to find flowering plants I can grow in my perennial shade garden. So far I am having a difficult time except for hostas, nettle and myrtle. I need help to get my miniature lilac to bloom.

ANSWER:

First, we hope to clarify what the plants are that are already in your perennial shade garden. Hostas are natives of Japan, China and Korea, large-leaved, beloved of snails and slugs the world over. Nettle, we're a little more puzzled over. There is Lamium maculatum (Spotted deadnettle), a herbaceous plant native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It bears a superficial resemblance to the unrelated stinging nettles, but do not have stinging hairs and so are harmless or, apparently, "dead." We trust it is the Lamium and not real stinging nettles you have in your garden. The myrtle is another question altogether. In warmer climates, there is the Morella cerifera (wax myrtle), a North American native widely used as either a shrub or small tree, but not normally hardy enough for Ohio. Then, there is Myrtus communis, a culinary herb from the Mediterranean often used in Greek food. Again, doesn't sound hardy enough to be in Ohio.

Next, before we answer your first question, let's address the lilac you want to bloom. Lilacs bloom only for a quick couple of weeks in the Spring; so, if they have already done that, you're not going to get any more blooming until next Spring. The majority of natural lilacs come from Asia. In Europe, they come from the Balkans, France and Turkey. Of course, being non-native to North America, they do not appear in our Native Plant Database, but here is a website from Gardener's Network How to Grow and Care for Lilac Bushes.

So, let's look for some plants that will flower in your shade garden in Ohio, but we're going to recommend only plants native to your area. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the use and care of plants native to North America, and also native to the area in which they will be growing. The reason for this is that native plants, being already used to the environment in which they will be asked to grow, will have less need of water, fertilizer and maintenance and more resistance to pests and diseases. First, we will go to the Recommended Species section of our website, click on Ohio on the map, and then select, separately, herbaceous perennials and shrubs for part shade (2-6 hours of sun a day) to shade (less than 2 hours of sun). You can make your own selections, adding other specifications, like the soil moisture. Fiinally, go to Suppliers, type in your city and state in the Enter Search Location box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area.

HERBS (Herbaceous perennials)

Anemone canadensis (Canadian anemone)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Campanula rotundifolia (bluebell bellflower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Delphinium tricorne (dwarf larkspur)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf coneflower)

SHRUBS

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

Viburnum acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum)


Anemone canadensis

Aquilegia canadensis

Campanula rotundifolia

Coreopsis lanceolata

Delphinium tricorne

Monarda didyma

Lobelia cardinalis

Rudbeckia laciniata

Physocarpus opulifolius

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Viburnum acerifolium

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Erosion control for a North Carolina creek side
February 29, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I noticed a question on your website recommending NC native grasses and plants to help prevent erosion on a sloping backyard, including the use of an erosion blanket. The pl...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade in Northern California
March 30, 2010 - What are good plants that grow and live in shade only?
view the full question and answer

Erosion prevention on shady Pennsylvania stream
July 28, 2011 - I'm looking for a few species to plant along a stream channel to help reduce erosion during heavy rains. The soil is moist and in full shade. Ferns and thorny bushes are the only current vegetation...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a mixed border in Houston
February 22, 2010 - I live in Houston and have a flowerbed I'd like to fill with plants that will look good year-round. The back is already lined with 6-foot shrubs so nothing like that. I'd like something with colorf...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Shady Woodland in MA
June 09, 2013 - Hello, I am looking for natives to plant in full shade or part shade. My house is in the mountain woodland area of Mt. Washington, MA. I am looking for grasses, flowers and shrubs. Also I am looking f...
view the full question and answer

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