Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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

Tuesday - June 22, 2010

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Trees
Title: Mulching in deep shade in Round Rock TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Central Texas: Problem is deep shade and high temps. I noted your advice about danger to the tree when planting beneath shade trees, but wonder if there is a substance - perhaps pine needles - that could be spread (safely) to reduce mud problems when watering. Trees are Red Oak, Chiquapin Oak, Burr Oak.

ANSWER:

Certainly, we have recommended mulch before in areas beneath trees where nothing, or nothing you want, will grow. Pine needles, if they are readily available, will be fine. As they decompose, they will add some acidity to the soil, which shouldn't hurt the trees you mentioned. Ordinarily, we recommend a shredded hardwood mulch because it tends to remain more stable and stay in place. In any case, mulch is nearly always an advantage beneath trees; it will help keep down weeds that CAN grow in that environment, hold moisture in the soil, and protect the tree roots from heat and cold. As it decomposes, it will go into the soil and help improve the drainage in that soil and assist the roots in accessing nutrients in the soil. We think it's attractive and smells pleasant. The mulch will have to be replenished from time to time, but that is much less labor intensive and expensive than constantly replacing plants that will not grow there.

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Fast-growing vine for shade in Brooklyn
June 05, 2011 - I am looking for a flowering vine that is fast growing and will be able to flower this season if I plant it within next couple weeks (in June) here in Brooklyn. I want something that will grow up a pi...
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

Need plants for shade in Arizona.
May 15, 2009 - Please suggest plants that I can plant in a shaded area. I live in Glendale, Arizona. The shade will be 100% of the time.
view the full question and answer

Small shrub for shady area
March 06, 2010 - I would like to find a shrub to plant on the north, northeast side of my house, but it will be in mostly shade. It needs to get between 21/2' to 4' tall. Do you have any suggestions please?
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, drought- and shade-tolerant plant for Pennsylvania
August 14, 2012 - Hello, I need a deer/drought resistant, shade tolerant, rocky soil perennial. I would like it to have some winter appeal. I live outside of Philadelphia, PA. Thank you so much for your time...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.