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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - April 16, 2010

From: Huntley, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Plants for a shady spot in Illinois
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in a new development in Huntley, IL. I am looking for native trees, shrubs, plants and/or flowers to plant on the North side of my house. Fairly shaded. Hopefully something attractive and colorful?? Maybe some different plants to bloom at different times of the year? I like the idea of arborvitae's and maybe forsythia's with some ground evergreens and flowers??? Any ideas?

ANSWER:

This looks like a fun project even though you are describing a situation that can be quite elusive for most gardeners (attractive and colorful with blooms throughout the season).

It's not impossible, though, and you will be able to devise your own scheme using our Native Plant Database .  You can do a Combination Search for Illinois and then select the conditions (shade/part shade and wet/dry?) for shrubs, perennials and so on.  You can narrow down the search according to bloom time and color.

For instance, when I selected shade/part shade, moist soil, shrubs and white flowers, blooming in June, a list of 37 plants is generated.  Each plant on the list is linked to a detailed plant information page.

A few that I like from that list are:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) (this is a ground cover)

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood)

Hydrangea arborescens (wild hydrangea)

When selecting the same conditions but perennials (herbs) that bloom blue in August & September, there are 16 to choose from.

Gentianopsis crinita (greater fringed gentian)

Iris versicolor (harlequin blueflag)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

And so on ... you can do a number of searches for the various plant types and bloom color/time.  Ultimately, your choices will be limited by the plants you can find in the nurseries in your area (and the fact that you won't really find any yellow flowering plants ... generally, sunny colored flowers like full sun!).  I'm sure you'll quickly get the hang of it and will soon have a lengthy wish list and a great garden plan.


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Cornus alternifolia

Hydrangea arborescens



Iris versicolor

Lobelia siphilitica

 

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native groundcovers for bare, shady space in Oklahoma
August 22, 2008 - I have recently acquired a new residence that has very little lawn to speak of. The backyard is in an unfortunate position to catch significant amounts of rainwater from nearby yards, and is sloped. ...
view the full question and answer

Need Shade Trees for Entry in Poway, California
January 14, 2011 - Hi - Our front door gets a lot of afternoon sun, so we'd like to plant a couple of shade trees near the entry way. Unfortunately we don't have much room between our entry path and the driveway, so...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for a Shaded Patio Container in Missouri
April 17, 2015 - What kind of native plants would grow well in a pot on a fully shaded patio? I live in Kansas City, Missouri. The patio faces north and doesn't get any direct sunlight, but it gets lots of indirect...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen for shade
August 28, 2008 - Hi, I am looking for a plant that is evergreen (or semi evergreen), native to central Texas, and shade tolerant. This is for a Wildscape area in San Marcos. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!
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

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