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

Tuesday - April 27, 2010

From: Columbia, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Ground cover for shady area in Maryland
Answered by: Nan Hampton


What ground cover grows well on a shady slope with close to surface tree roots?


Mr. Smarty Plants assumes you would like something that is evergreen.  Here are five evergreen plants that make very nice ground covers:

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)

Packera aurea (golden ragwort)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)

Here are two other plants that aren't evergreen that also make excellent ground covers:

Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny-spurge) is semi-evergreen

Tiarella cordifolia (heartleaf foamflower)

You can search in our Maryland Recommended Species list for other possibilities.

You micht also be interested in a Maryland Native Plant Society publication Native Plants for Central Maryland Landscapes—Piedmont and Inner Coastal Plains.

Here are photos of the above plants from our Image Gallery:

Gaultheria procumbens

Mitchella repens

Packera aurea

Polystichum acrostichoides

Dryopteris marginalis

Pachysandra procumbens

Tiarella cordifolia





More Shade Tolerant Questions

Texas natives that are shade tolerant for Austin, TX
January 21, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for Texas native plants that are shade tolerant....specifically agaves (How about the Century Agave and the Queen Victoria Agave?) and something to add a splash ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade in Texas
September 14, 2008 - I am looking for shade tolerant shrubs to plant near our carport. We live in Plum Grove, near Splendora, Texas. I don't want anything with thorns that will scratch the paint or me while getting i...
view the full question and answer

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

Screen plants for part shade in Smithville, TX
February 23, 2010 - Thank you very much for your reply to my question about planting bamboo. I had no idea it was so invasive. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for me. My goal is to provide a soft an...
view the full question and answer

Straggler daisy as a ground cover in Florida
April 21, 2015 - I live in Hillsborough county,FL. My yard has two large oak trees and is very shady. I am looking for a shade resistant ground cover that will do well for a yard used by children to play. I was told...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center