En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Native grasses that are shade tolerant for Central Texas

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
2 ratings

Friday - March 26, 2010

From: Henly, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Native grasses that are shade tolerant for Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently purchased acreage in Henly (Dripping Springs area). The property has a large stand of big Live Oaks, Black Jack Oaks and Cedar Elm trees. The area has not been grazed for several years and has a good covering of native bunch grasses. Mowing is a tortuous experience because driving over the clumps of bunch grass is like driving over a field strewn with small speed bumps. I would like to plant another native species like curly mesquite, etc. that would help infill between the current grasses and smooth out the turf as much as possible. Can you suggest a native grass(s) that would be somewhat shade tolerant to grow under the tree canopy as well as the sunny locations of the property?

ANSWER:

Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) would be the perfect grass for your purpose, but like Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) it thrives only in full sun. 

Here are some suggestions for shade and part shade grasses.  As it turns out, most of them are bunch grasses since there are very few native turf-type grasses, especially those that will grow in the shade.

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) will grow in shade (less than 2 hours sun per day) and part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day).  It is not a clump grass and it looks and acts a bit like the non-native bermuda grass.  Here is more information about it.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) is an attractive bunch grass that will grow in both shade and part shade. Even though this is a bunch grass, I included it because it does so well in the shade and is very attractive.

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) grows in sun and part shade and is the State Grass of Texas.

Chloris verticillata (tumble windmill grass) will grow in sun and part shade.

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) grows in sun and part shade.

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass) grows in both sun and part shade.

Tridens flavus (purpletop tridens) grows in part shade.

You could also try sedges.  Although they grow in clumps, they are generally not tall and have the advantage of being evergreen. 

Carex planostachys (cedar sedge) will do well in part shade.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) does well in part shade and sun.

Native American Seed in Junction has a Shade-Friendly Grass Mix that includes many of the species above.  They also have these grass seeds for sale individually.   Additionally, our Spring Plant Sale (April 9—for members only—and April 10-11 for the general public) offers many of the above species for sale.

Here are photos of the above from Image Gallery:


Muhlenbergia schreberi

Chasmanthium latifolium

Bouteloua curtipendula

Chloris verticillata

Elymus canadensis

Poa arachnifera

Tridens flavus

Carex planostachys

Carex texensis

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Part shade garden to attract hummingbirds in Texas
July 14, 2008 - We are inexperienced gardeners. We have a bed (2.5' x 6') with sun in the morning and shade in afternoon and want to attract hummingbirds. Salvia coccinea sounds easy, but what else could we plant...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a shady garden in Wisconsin
June 22, 2009 - I have a shady garden in southeastern Wisconsin (Milwaukee) and am interested in introducing more native plants of all sizes and heights, hopefully with lovely flowers. I would love to know what you ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control with perennials for a shady Dallas bank
July 25, 2013 - Thank you for your help with turf or perennials on a shaded bank, 4000 sq ft, for the Dallas area that has good roots, grows in semi shade to shade, is on a steep bank so cannot mow, and flowers the l...
view the full question and answer

Plants under Oak Trees in Austin TX
December 10, 2012 - Half of my small yard is in the shade of one big live oak and one kumquat. Nothing I plant grows in this shade. The other half of my yard gets sunlight. It is planted with Jasmine grass which grows w...
view the full question and answer

What are the best deep shade plants for San Antonio?
May 20, 2009 - What are the best deep shade plants for San Antonio?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center