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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - February 12, 2009

From: Decatur, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a condo garden in Decatur GA
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I recently moved into a condo in Decatur (just outside Atlanta). I am now working on the back yard - just a patio and dirt right now. It is a small space and is shaded much of the day but does get some early and late sun. I would like to plant some shrubs that might flower and would be at least 3 feet tall in the area with morning sun and plant something interesting in the very shady corner. I am wary of azaleas because of their toxicity to dogs. I like the idea of native plants in the hopes that they will be more drought resistant. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

For the part sun area, Calycanthus floridus (eastern sweetshrub) might work for you. The flowers of this plant are visually interesting and have a very unusual, spicey fragrance. Other shrubs for that spot might be Fothergilla gardenii (dwarf witchalder), Fothergilla major (mountain witchalder), Illicium floridanum (Florida anisetree), Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire), Morella cerifera (wax myrtle), and Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush).

In the shady spot, Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) is pretty in flower and eye-popping in fruit. Other possibilities are Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle), Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark) and Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood).

 

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