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

Monday - October 05, 2009

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Plants for narrow moist shade in Dallas
Answered by: Nina Hawkins

QUESTION:

We are looking for plants in a narrow strip next to our house. It is a shady area that holds a lot of water. We would love plants that would help take water out of the soil. Do you have any suggestions? By the way, it faces East. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Our top three choices for the conditions you describe are Packera obovata (roundleaf ragwort), Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) and Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant).  Depending on how well the soil drains in that area and how much moisture is there year-round (wet all the time, moist, alternately bone dry/standing water), at least one and perhaps all of them should do well in your narrow strip of wet shade.  Roundleaf ragwort (also called Golden groundsel) is one of the earliest flowers to bloom in the Spring, creating an ethereal golden glow when planted en masse.  It will spread to create an evergreen groundcover under the right conditions and so could potentially be used alone.  Obedient plant and Inland sea oats are attractive and tolerate both wet and dry conditions well and are also good spreaders.  But these are just a few good candidates!  Many other plants may do as well or better than the ones suggested here and you know the little microclimate next to your house better than anyone.  We encourage you to explore your options with the easy-to-use combination search in our Native Plant Information Database.  You'll want to select 'Texas' for the state, and 'Herb' for the Habit because your space is narrow, then choose the proper light and water conditions.  You can also choose to search by bloom time and color.

We would be remiss not to mention that warning bells clanged in our head upon reading the words "next to our house" and "holds a lot of water."  Standing water next to your foundation (especially in the highly expandable clay soils so common in Dallas) is bad news.  We hope that the wet strip next to your house is actually a few feet away from the foundation rather than right up against it.  If it's the latter, you would do better to address your drainage issue by adding soil next to the foundation so that water can drain away from it or consulting with a drainage expert if the problem is more complicated.  Additionally, it's generally not a good idea to have vegetation right up against the house, especially if you have wood siding that could rot.  It is much better to have a clear path with rocks or low groundcover (at least 1 foot wide) all the way around the house for good air circulation, easy access for maintenance, and to discourage insects and rodents.  Either way, you have a number of options!


Packera obovata

Chasmanthium latifolium

Physostegia virginiana

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Screen and shade for pool in Michigan
July 18, 2010 - We recently moved to a new home that has a pool. There is no shade nor privacy. What types of trees, plants would you recommend for our small backyard?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Austin thicket underlayer
July 25, 2014 - We live in Austin, west of 183. We are planning to put a thicket in our backyard, where there is no threat of deer. Anchoring the thicket are a clump of live oaks, a Texas persimmon, an Eve's Necklac...
view the full question and answer

Native lawn replacement for shady areas in Austin
September 11, 2013 - Our front lawn was totally destroyed this summer during some remodeling construction. I am interested in replacing it with native grasses, but we have several oak trees that keep the area fairly shady...
view the full question and answer

Native flowering vine for trellis in shade in Henrico, VA
April 07, 2010 - I live in Henrico, Virginia and have a trellis in a shady area. I am looking for a native vine to grow, preferably one that flowers and attracts birds and/or butterflies. What do you advise?
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for area under grand fir (Abies grandis) in Idaho
July 08, 2010 - What can I plant on a slope under Grand Fir trees in North Idaho, zone 4 - anything deer resistant?
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