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
2 ratings

Wednesday - April 28, 2010

From: Toledo, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Plants for a shady front border in Ohio
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

My front flower bed faces the North. For the past 2 yrs. I lost 5-6 perennials. What can I plant that will make it with little sun. I don't want hostas nor ferns, nor short ground covers. I want colorful flowers that will show from the road in various heights. I already have 1 hydrangea, 2 daylilies, 1 salvia, 1 veronica & 2 bleeding hearts that all came back.

ANSWER:

You have already learned from experience that not all plants do well in full shade and you do not mention whether your soil conditions are wet, dry or moist; that will have a huge impact on your plant choices.  If your soil is pretty damp, your salvia and veronica will probably struggle for a few years and then give up the ghost.

Native plants are very well adapted to the conditions where they originate.  So the trick for you is to find plants that are native to conditions like those at the front of your house.  You can start by visiting our Native Plant database. If you do a Combination Search for Ohio, selecting full shade, the appropriate soil conditions and then shrubs or herbs (herbaceous plants: perennials & annuals) it will generate a list of plants (with links to detailed information pages and images).

You can also select bloom color and time, but you will have to realize that there are regional differences that can skew computer generated results.  For instance, a yellow sunflower that will want to grow out in the middle of a sunny field in the north might actually do well in the shade/part shade in Texas where the sun can be blazing hot and relentless.

You may be disappointed by the lists our database generates.  You will not find many plants with large, colorful flowers.  That is simply because there is not enough light available in the shade for a plant to expend the energy required to produce such flowers. For instance native woodland shade plants have a short flowering season in early spring, to take advantage of the sunlight available before the forest leafs out. Many of them then go dormant for the summer while there is little light and water available to them. It might be helpful for you to investigate parks and gardens in your area to see what plants growing in the shade you find attractive; nature can be a great inspiration.

Sorry we cannot be more helpful. As that famous English philospher (Mick Jagger) said, "You can't always get what you want"!

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Austin Shade Plants for Pots
March 28, 2010 - I live in a condo in Austin Texas so I don't have any flower beds or yard space. I would like to put a few large pots of plants and flowers on my front patio but it's mostly shaded during the day. W...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plants for shaded fence in Arizona
January 28, 2009 - I need to place a fence around my front yard (4-5 ft tall), in Arizona. What evergreen flower/plant can you recommend that would grow on this fence? (it would only get about 2-4 hours of sun daily and...
view the full question and answer

Native shade trees for Austin
May 15, 2009 - I am building a new home that does not have any trees close by-- I want to have several shade trees to increase the efficiency of my home. What are your suggestions for an easy care, fast-growing, an...
view the full question and answer

Native ground covers for shade in East Texas
June 06, 2008 - I live in Mount Pleasant, Texas which is in northeast Texas. I would like a list of ground covers that would do well in our area. The place I want to put it gets a lot of shade. The ground is clay. Th...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for horses in Merced, CA
January 21, 2011 - I would like to plant some trees to provide shade for horses in the pasture. What native trees are drought resistant (water may be spotty in the summer) yet safe for the animals? I live in the Calif...
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