En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - June 02, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Will Salvia coccinea bloom in shade in Houston?
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in Houston and I used your database tool to search for shade plants. I am particularly interested in plants that bloom and support native pollinators. My search returned salvia coccinea. Will this plant flower in shade? One of the spots gets no direct sunlight. Can you recommend any plants that do flower in the shade?


Salvia coccinea (blood sage) is shown on our database as growing in sun (6 or more hours of sun daily), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun) or shade (less than 2 hours of sun.) Growing and blooming are two different things. Any plant, no matter how shade tolerant, will bloom far better in some sun. The function of the flowers is to produce seeds, in order for the plant to propagate itself. If it cannot do so because of not enough sunlight, it will hardly be worth the space you have given to it. If your shade is that deep, you may have to satisfy yourself with plants like ferns that, while they do not bloom, do provide some color and texture in a shady spot. We will look in our database for plants tolerating shade, and give you some suggestions; however, we can't guarantee blooms, or at least enough blooming to attract the pollinators, who all prefer lots of flowers in an area. We suppose they are picky eaters and want a wide choice. 

Shade Tolerant Herbaceous Blooming Plants for the Houston Area:

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed) - sun, part shade or shade, attracts butterflies

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower) - sun, part shade or shade, nectar attracts hummingbirds, moths and insects

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox) - part shade or shade, flowers attract butterflies

Salvia coccinea (blood sage) - sun, part shade or shade, nectar attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies

Shade Tolerant Shrubs for the Houston Area:

Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) - shade, but no attraction for wildlife

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) - part shade or shade, nectar attracts hummingbirds, moths and insects, fruit attracts birds and small mammals

Shade Tolerant Ferns for the Houston Area:

Athyrium filix-femina (common ladyfern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Coreopsis lanceolata

Lobelia cardinalis

Phlox divaricata

Salvia coccinea

Hydrangea quercifolia

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Athyrium filix-femina

Osmunda cinnamomea






More Shade Tolerant Questions

Shade tolerant vines for Mobile AL
May 07, 2013 - I am looking for an evergreen vine that will thrive in the shade in hot and humid south Alabama. I plan to plant on a trellis. A flowering vine would be even better.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under Spruces from West Chester PA
December 06, 2012 - Trying to get a native groundcover (or any grass/wildflower/fern) planting established under a small stand of spruces. Established stand (30+ years old), so lots of needles on ground. Just about tot...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-vascular moss as a lawn from Seattle WA
July 27, 2013 - I have lots of moss in my back yard. How can I encourage it to grow over the whole yard?
view the full question and answer

Native plants for moist and shady yard in Rowlett, TX
February 21, 2005 - I have an area of my yard that has drainage issues. It stays quite moist most of the time and is shady a large part of the day. I would like to plant some native plants in that area. Maybe something t...
view the full question and answer

Plants for water park
January 03, 2013 - Hi, I usually have no problem locating the right species for a given situation, but I may need some advice for this. I am looking for plants -- from annual & perennial flowers to shrubs and small t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center