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 - 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 to control erosion in shade in California
October 06, 2008 - I need plants that will help prevent soil erosion on a sloping area under a wood fence. The area has filtered light. thank you!
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade native to New York
June 13, 2006 - I am gradually trying to convert my garden to all natives. I am working in a shaded area under a maple tree. Are there any varieties of epimediums/barrenwort or hellebores that are native to the nor...
view the full question and answer

Shade and Drought Tolerant Plants for Idaho Shade
March 18, 2016 - I am looking for plants native to Idaho and/or the surrounding region (zone 6 or 7) that would do well in full shade conditions (adjacent to the north side of our house) and meet several criteria: Max...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for Austin TX shade
October 24, 2015 - I live in Austin, TX. I'm looking for a 4 season shrub for a partially shaded area that gets about 3 hours of sun towards the evening. It's mostly partially shaded.
view the full question and answer

Nimblewill grass for a shady area in Dallas
April 04, 2013 - i have a very shady backyard and reading some of your post I think Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) will survive. Two questions: Is it drought resistant? Where can I buy the seeds?
view the full question and answer

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