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
1 rating

Tuesday - May 12, 2009

From: Mattituck, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Ground cover for shaded sandy soil in Long Island, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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 moderate foot traffic.

ANSWER:

The best we can do is go looking in our Native Plant Database for low growing plants native to New York that will tolerate shade. In terms of foot traffic, we would suggest paths or walkways with a layer of shredded hardwood mulch under your trees. It has to be replaced from time to time, but helps keep the ground and tree roots warm (or cool), holds in moisture, and can be walked on freely. As it decomposes, it continues to improve the texture of the soil beneath it, and is attractive.

We found several low-growing, blooming perennial plants, some of them evergreen. We also thought you might be interested in some native grasses, not very tall, that will do well in a shady condition, hold their place year-round, and are easy to care for. Again, they can't be walked on, but might serve as a border.

 

Blooming ground covers for Long Island

Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina springbeauty) - 4 to 12 inch stems, blooms white, pink April to June, part shade, moist soil

Maianthemum stellatum (starry false lily of the valley) - 8 to 10 inch stems, blooms white May and June, part shade or shade, dry soil

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) - 2 inches tall, creeping evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple May to October

Phlox subulata (moss phlox) - less than 2 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple March to June, high water use, sun or part shade

Viola pedata (birdfoot violet) - 4 to 10 inches tall, blooms blue, purple March to June, dry soil, part shade or shade

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - 2 to 3 ft. stems, medium water use, sun or part shade

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) - 10 to 12 inches tall, medium water use, sun or part shade

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - 18 to 24 inches tall, water use low, sun or part shade


Claytonia caroliniana

Maianthemum stellatum

Mitchella repens

Phlox subulata

Viola pedata

Bouteloua curtipendula

Carex texensis

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Container plant for shade in Austin
August 07, 2010 - I am very new to gardening (have already killed two plants on my front entryway), and I looking for a couple recommendations for for a potted plant that I can place on my entryway porch. It is shaded...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for erosion from Austin
May 03, 2014 - I live in Austin and my house backs up to Shoal Creek. I am looking for a native creeping vine or something that will grow on the shaded bank to help prevent erosion. It should be able to tolerate the...
view the full question and answer

Salt tolerant plants for shade on tidal inlet in NY
August 11, 2013 - Are there any salt water tolerant grasses or forbs with deep roots that grow in shade? I live on a tidal inlet/canal on Long Island NY. The southern bank has cedars and oaks but the soil is eroding ...
view the full question and answer

Trees for shade east windows from sun in Abilene, TX
October 25, 2008 - We need a tree(s) to plant in front of four east windows (20 feet space) to shade our breakfast room from the early morning sun. We have shades but need a bit more protection. I do not wish to shade...
view the full question and answer

Native moss to fill in between flagstones
April 21, 2008 - I live in Houston and have a long, narrow flagstone path that runs along the east side of the house. I am looking for a native moss that can fill in between the flagstones and will tolerate morning su...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center