En Español

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
2 ratings

Saturday - May 02, 2009

From: Burlington, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Dwarf native plants for shade in Burlington, MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, I removed all of the evergreen shrubs in front of my house in Zone 6. It is in full shade all summer but has some sun during the spring because of a huge beech tree in front yard. there is 2 8' x4' garden area's separated by 5 foot stairs. I want dwarf native plants. Any suggestions? I do not want rhododendron's and I left two azalea bushes one of each side of the stairs(white and purple), which I can move to start new. thankyou in advance

ANSWER:

We will certainly try to find some shrubs that will live in full shade (less than 2 hours of sun daily) in your area. However, we can't guarantee that there will be dwarf selections of those plants. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are focused on the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. Therefore, our Native Plant Database, when we select for shrubs, part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun daily) to shade (less than 2 hours of sun) and Massachusetts, will list appropriate shrubs for that much shade and your climate, but not the dwarf selections. We will attempt, after we locate appropriate plants, to see if any dwarves of those plants have been bred and if they are commercially available. As it turned out, only one plant was evergreen, Galium proliferum (limestone bedstraw), and it and two others,  Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea) and Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort) grow to less than 3 ft. tall. We could find no dwarf versions of the larger shrubs, but included them in case you had other spots where you could use them.

Shrubs for shade iin Burlington, MA

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea) - deciduous to 3 ft. tall, blooms white March and April, medium water use, part shade or shade

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood) - deciduous, 20 to 35 ft. tall, blooms white May and June, medium water use, part shade or shade

Galium proliferum (limestone bedstraw) - evergreen, low, woody ground cover, blooms white, pink June to August, low water use, part shade to shade

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort) - deciduous to 3 ft tall, blooms yellow June to August, high water use, part shade or shade

Rosa palustris (swamp rose) - deciduous, 6 to 8 ft. tall, blooms pink May and June, medium water use, part shade or shade

Viburnum lentago (nannyberry) - deciduous, 20 to 25 ft., blooms white in May, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade


Ceanothus americanus

Cornus alternifolia

Gaultheria procumbens

Hypericum prolificum

Rosa palustris

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Why doesn't my Rusty blackhead bloom?
April 10, 2016 - I have planted Rusty blackhaws the past several years..some bloomed the first year and every year since....and others 3 years old have not bloomed yet... Do all Rusty blackhaws bloom eventually or ...
view the full question and answer

Where to find Horseherb seed
August 02, 2015 - I would like to purchase some Horseherb seeds. Can you tell me where I can do that? Either locally or on line. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for shaded sandy soil in Long Island, NY
May 12, 2009 - I live on the north fork of Long Island (Zone 7) I would like to find a grass or low ground cover that will grow in shaded sandy soil. The yard has quite a few trees. It also has to stand up to modera...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade in Abilene TX
October 29, 2011 - I live in Abilene, Texas. I am trying to find the best plants to fill in an area on the North side of my home, which gets absolutely no sun. The area is sprinklered, and stays fairly moist. I really d...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under Oak Trees in LA.
March 05, 2013 - What type of plants and grass can be planted under and around oak trees
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center