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
2 ratings

Wednesday - February 09, 2011

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shade-loving Grass for the Houston area
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I have an ash tree that completely shades the majority of our front yard and is not allowing the St. Augustine grass to grow. Is there a shade-loving grass good for the Houston area?

ANSWER:

Sure! - Although it depends on how serious you are on the request for a grass.

Several very similar questions have been posed.  Somebody in Houston wanted "Plants for shade".  Here is a link to that answerChasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats), which is recommended there, is a lovely grass but is 2-4 ft. high. Most of the rest of the plants mentioned in this answer are shrubs or higher.  Another recommended grass is Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass).  This is also lovely, but runs 3-8 ft. high. You might want to consider a combination of inland seaoats, and Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage), that grows well in shade.  It has lovely red flowers that attract hummingbirds and is easy to care for. 

Here is another similar discussion, where the question was about grasses in Montgomery County  [Just to the North of Houston]. That discussion recommended buffalograss.  In general, buffalograss does not grow very well in shade.  Native American Seed, a Wildflower Center associate, has a buffalograss that they claim to be shade tolerant.

                   
Salvia coccinea
                Sorghastrum nutans                   Chasmanthium latifolium

I'm suspecting you may want a ground cover, or at least something a bit lower.  This previous question/answer pair applies specifically to ground covers.  I have Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) in my own lawn in Austin and it does decently in partial shade.  Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) also works really well in this kind of application.

            
Calyptocarpus vialis                    Phyla nodiflora

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Ground cover for shade from Atlanta GA
May 28, 2012 - I am looking for recommendations for a ground cover. I live in the Atlanta, Georgia area and have a large shady slope on which I would like to use low maintenance/water native ground cover. What wou...
view the full question and answer

Seed source for Carex texensis from Louisville KY
May 02, 2012 - Your reply to my question re a grass for my Kentucky home with cistern only water available was much appreciated, Carex texensis was recommended. I am unable to find this product for sale other than ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Shrub for shade in Rockford IL
April 29, 2009 - I live in Rockford, IL and would like to know what kind of bush to plant in pretty much, full shade. I would prefer to stay away from evergreens due to allergies. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Understory shrub for shady area in San Antonio
December 03, 2008 - We would like to plant a small understory tree/shrub in an odd space that our new deck has created between our fence line and the house. A mature mountain laurel would be our dream but I think there ...
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