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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - February 01, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Non-Poisonous, Shade Tolerant Vine for Austin
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

Hello, I live in northwest Austin and have a very shady wood fence I would like to cover and was thinking about a vine. I have a toddler and a dog so anything poisonous is out of the question. I would like to plant something responsible and native. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Here are a couple of ideas:

Parthenocissus heptaphylla (Sevenleaf creeper)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper).

Both of these plants are shade tolerant and will give some fall color (this will be less in the shade than it would if grown in the sun). Virginia Creeper will probably be a little faster growing and will be a better climber because the vines have adhesive tips which the Sevenleaf creeper lacks. The Sevenleaf creeper can be trained to climb, but will not do so as readily as Virginia creeper.

Now, as for being poisonous, the description of Virginia creeper in the link above contains the phrase "The berries of Virginia Creeper can be harmful if ingested." North Carolina State University has a poisonous plants database with a page on Virginia creeper that contains this: "HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN!"

However, neither species shows up on these three databases that I checked:

Toxic Plants of Texas

ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List - Dogs

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants.

It is odd that one site gives such a dire warning while others are completely silent. All Mr. Smarty Plants can say is - it's not clear. If this is a big concern for you, the Sevenleaf creeper may be a better choice for you.


Parthenocissus heptaphylla

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Plants for shaded area in East Texas
July 23, 2013 - I live in East Texas and have an area that is shaded most of the day - it only gets sun in the middle of the day but it is direct. What would be best? I would prefer something that won't freeze, bu...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plants for shaded bed and removing bermuda grass.
November 29, 2007 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, I have two questions. First, the back of our house in Williamson County faces north. We have plant beds (about one foot wide and the length of the house) up against the back w...
view the full question and answer

Should Solanum eleagnifolium, silverleaf nightshade, be removed from yard
October 01, 2009 - I live in Upstate NY. I'm quite sure, after checking many sites/pictures, that I have a couple specimens of Silver Leaf Night Shade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) growing in the "wild" portion of my side...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Septic Field in NC
August 14, 2013 - What kinds of low water plants can I plant over a new septic field in North Carolina? The area is part sun so I am concerned about having trouble getting grass started.
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, shade tolerant trees for part shade in Highland MD
March 29, 2013 - Deer resistant privacy trees for partial shady area in Highland, MD.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center