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
1 rating

Tuesday - September 21, 2010

From: Rochester, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Want salt, shade, drought tolerant plant for Rochester, New York
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

I am looking for a ground cover plant for western NY to grow on a strip alongside a road that gets very little sun in summer (lots of tree branches shading it). It gets a lot of road salt in winter along with some snow piled on top. If it were to be drought resistant, that would be even better. We have tried to grow grass on this piece of land, but with no luck (too shaded) Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

I compared the list of salt tolerant plants to the list of shade plants prepared by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.  I also checked for plants that will grow in part shade, are salt tolerant and drought resistant.

The only plants that were fully shade tolerant and salt tolerant  and might make it with your water conditions were the following shrubs.  I think that they will be too large for your needs but am including them just in case.  If you have a ditch along the road,  I would plant them on the sides of the ditch to get their roots closer to the water table.  Or you could build little hollows, like small rain gardens and plant them at the bottom. Spicebush seemed to need the least water.  If you are planting in the zone of lots of tree roots, the trees will be competing for water, making this area drier for the plants.

Photinia pyrifolia (Syn = Aronia arbutifolia)– Red chokeberry  is a six to twelve foot shrub with four-season interest.

Lindera benzoin– Spicebush grows six to 12 feet and needs medium water.  It will also grow in dry soils.

However if you can prune up the trees, or thin them, so the site gets 3-6 hours of sun a day, you could plant Schizachyrium scoparium– Little bluestem.  A large planting of this will give dramatic fall color and also be beneficial to wildlife. AND it's drought resistant. So this sounds like the ideal plant for you.

The rest of the salt-tolerant plants are all sun loving and need six or more hours of sun a day.  This is because they developed along open, sunny beaches or in salt marshes.


Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Annabelle hydrangeas blossoms drooping to ground in Wilmette, IL
April 10, 2011 - I have a row of Annabelle Hydrangeas that become very heavy and droop over the entire width of the bed. I would like to know what I can use for support so that they will stand up and allow me to plan...
view the full question and answer

Low plants for shady, damp area in Roanoke, TX
November 13, 2008 - First, thanks for answering my first question about Texas Native Trees for our new home! I have just started working on plans for our back yard and have a question about Texas Native Shade plants. W...
view the full question and answer

Shade tree with non-aggressive roots for next to pool in The Woodlands TX
April 26, 2011 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants. We live in Spring, TX and are looking for a full-sun shade tree to plant in a large planter (about 6'x6') next to our pool. We want the tree to provide shade for our full a...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for grass under non-native weeping willow from Yorba Linda CA
April 24, 2012 - What would be a good replacement for the grass currently growing under a weeping willow? Something requiring low maintenance, the problem is with mowing over and around the roots.
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shade under oaks in San Antonio
May 04, 2013 - I have been modifying my landscape to reduce grass and the need for frequent watering. Have turned half the backyard into native plants garden with hardscape and sitting areas. Have 2 mature Monterey ...
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