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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - November 02, 2009

From: Paris, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Groundcover for shade in Paris, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have a south exposure with 2 large sycamore trees. Noon sun in patches and mainly dappled shade but not dense. I'm consideering planting asian ivy. The soil is "sandy loam" but it's very sandy and heavy. St. Augustine grass grows but I don't want it. Are my chances good?


Since the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's mission is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes," we are going to recommend that you NOT plant the non-native Asian ivy (Hedera colchica)

We are happy that you are getting rid of your St. Augustine grass, however, and we can offer you some native alternatives to Asian ivy.  These are suggestions from the Wasowski's Native Texas Plants:  Landscaping Region by Region for groundcovers that grow in the shade and in sand in your area of the state:

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) forms dense green mats in the shade, grows to 8-10 inches, but can be mowed to 2-4 inches.

Geum canadense (white avens) can grow to over 18 inches, but can be mowed to 4 inches.  If watered in the summertiime, it will remain evergreen.

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) is evergreen and usually only 2 inches high.  It needs water in the summertime to remain evergreen.

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) is usually 3-4 inches high and can remain evergreen in mild winters.

Rivina humilis (rougeplant) grows 1 to 1.5 feet high and can remain evergreen in mild winters.

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage) is evergreen and can grow to 2 feet but can also be mowed to 4 inches after it has bloomed and its seeds have set.

Packera obovata [syn.=Senecio obovatus] (roundleaf ragwort) is evergreen and can grow up to 2 feet high, but can be mowed to 3 inches after it has flowered and the seeds have set.

Glandularia canadensis [syn. = Verbena canadensis] (rose mock vervain) grows 5-10 inches high in dappled or part shade.

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) is an evergreen fern 1-2 feet high that requires moist soil with good drainage—so sand should be ideal.

Thelypteris kunthii (Kunth's maiden fern) usual height is 1.5 feet, but can grow higher.  It dies down and becomes dormant after frost.  It can grow in the sun but requires more moisture when growing in the sun.

Calyptocarpus vialis

Geum canadense

Mitchella repens

Phyla nodiflora

Rivina humilis

Salvia lyrata

Packera obovata

Glandularia canadensis

Polystichum acrostichoides

Thelypteris kunthii





More Shade Tolerant Questions

Lantana failing to bloom from Tampa FL
October 04, 2012 - I reside in central Florida. I have planted several lantana the orange,red,yellow type. I don't have proper species name. They have been in the ground 3 weeks with 2" of potting soil around root ba...
view the full question and answer

Shade Tolerant Grasses and Groundcovers for Waco TX
March 15, 2013 - What is the best shade-tolerant grass? What is the best shade-tolerant ground cover?
view the full question and answer

Illinois native grasses for shade
June 27, 2013 - Hello, my grass has died in a very shady area (standard buffalo grass), and I took this as an opportunity to plant some native grass varieties. I originally thought of buffalo grass, but learned that ...
view the full question and answer

Silverleaf Nightshade, Happy in El Paso Texas
June 14, 2011 - Trying to identify a small wildflower all over in our El Paso neighborhood. Lavender bloom, five pointed petals, Star pattern inside, five bright yellow pistols. Beautiful. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Drought and Shade tolerant plants for Wichita Falls, TX
July 24, 2015 - I can find lots of information about planting drought tolerant, sun loving native plants, a number of which I've planted over the years. But I can find very little information about drought tolerant ...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center