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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - November 25, 2005

From: St. Louis, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Small evergreen native shrubs for apartment garden in shade in St. Louis
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in an apartment in St. Louis, MO, and have a small patch of rocky soil in the stairwell that I would like to plant with a native or natives. The area is entirely shaded, but all the natives I've found that do well in full shade require a moist soil. Can you recommend any plants that might grow well here? Thank you!

ANSWER:

You don't say exactly how large your area is, but I am assuming it is rather small. You probably are looking for evergreen or semi-evergreen plants that are not too large. One good candidate is asemi-evergreen, low-spreading shrub Prairie Sagebrush (Artemisia frigida). One drawback for it is that its pollen can cause hay fever. Lyre-leaf Sage (Salvia lyrata) makes a very good evergreen ground cover that will grow in the shade in most soil types. It will require some watering. There are several perennial flowers that are not evergreen that will grow in partial shade in poor soils—for instance, Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Blue Larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum), and Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida).

You can search for more possiblities in the Native Plant Database by doing a combination search selecting type of Growth Habit (e.g., Herb, Subschrub, Shrub, etc.), Light Needs, Water Use, Soil Moisture and by selecting Missouri from the U. S. Distribution column. You can also search for a nursery or seed company that specializes in native plants in your area in the National Suppliers Directory.
 

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