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
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

Need mowable ground cover for shady area under trees in Lake Charles, LA.
July 12, 2010 - I live in Southwest Louisiana. I have a large portion of my back yard that is very shady because I have large trees in the yard. The area dries up fairly quickly after a heavy rain, so it isn't extre...
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

Low maintenance, shade tolerant groundcover for Pacific Northwest
August 09, 2012 - What's a good low maintenance, shade tolerant ground cover for the Pacific Northwest? It needs to have good erosion control, too.
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant groundcover plants for Tarrant County, Texas
November 01, 2011 - I live in far NE Tarrant County (Ft Worth), TX and need a groundcover that can tolerate complete shade and poor, rocky, clay soil. I need mostly for erosion control, and needs to be relatively low
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for a shady spot in IL
February 26, 2011 - I have a low-sun spot on the side of my house in Chicago, IL. I would really like to turn this spot into a wildflower garden. Could you suggest some native IL flowers that might work in this spot? ...
view the full question and answer

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