En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Container plant for shade in Austin

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

Saturday - August 07, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Container plant for shade in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am very new to gardening (have already killed two plants on my front entryway), and I looking for a couple recommendations for for a potted plant that I can place on my entryway porch. It is shaded all day, and it does get very hot. It would also be nice to find something that is fairly hardy and doesn't require constant watering, and that is attractive. I would like something that has some height to it - 3-4 feet if possible. If such a plant exists I would very thankful for any advice you can provide! Thanks,

ANSWER:

We have two How-To Articles we think will help you as a beginning gardener. The first one is A Guide to Native Plant Gardening, All the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will ever recommend will be plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. It is an eco-friendly practice to garden natively, and the plants are already adapted to the conditions they find here. The second article we think you would be interested in is Container Gardening with Native Plants

After you have read those articles, we hope you will understand when we say your requirements may have eliminated just about every possibility. In the first place, all plants need adequate light; there are some that can get along on less than 2 hours of sunlight a day, which we consider "shade," but not necessarily thrive. It is very difficult to get blooms on any plant without at least a little sunshine. The heat in the area you are concerned about and the desire to have low watering make plant choices even more difficult. A few desert plants can get along without much water, but not without sun. A few (non-native) tropicals can take that much heat and even a lot of shade, but not without a lot of water. 

Another problem is that no plant is going to be attractive year-round. If you are looking for a final solution to fit in a space all the time under all conditions, you need to consider a statue. The sub-tropicals that might be able to withstand the heat and shade would not live through winter without being brought inside. If you are determined to have a plant as a focal point, here are some suggestions: Be flexible, prepared to change and replace plants when they are no longer attractive. Water. We have terra cotta pots on an apartment balcony, and during the summer, we water them every single day. Consider a pedestal or small outdoor table to lend the height you need. We think your best bet is going to be ferns, so we will list some from our Native Plant Database and you can follow the plant links to learn their projected size, water requirements and growing conditions.

Ferns for a Shady Porch in Austin: 

Adiantum capillus-veneris (common maidenhair)

Dryopteris ludoviciana (southern woodfern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Adiantum capillus-veneris

Dryopteris ludoviciana

Osmunda cinnamomea

Polystichum acrostichoides

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Need evergreen hedge and groundcover for shade in Carmel, Indiana
September 27, 2010 - Our property is bounded by a fencerow that is wooded and mostly shaded by mulberry and hackberry trees during the growing months. We'd like to create a 5'+ tall evergreen barrier on the property li...
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

Plants for a shady hillside in WI
June 07, 2011 - I would like to know what kind of plants I could plant on a northern exposure hillside to stop erosion. At the bottom of the hill is a lake. Also would putting rocks from the area as natural retaining...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for sun/part shade in Austin
May 07, 2008 - I live in Southwest Austin and I have a small backyard that has part sun/part shade. I have no grass in the backyard and my soil is not the healthiest, so I would like to plant some groundcover versus...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly plants from Austin TX
December 17, 2012 - I have a butterfly garden in the front part of the house facing the south side. However it is also mostly under a few Oak trees that cast shadow over half of the front yard starting early afternoon. ...
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