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
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

Plants for a shady front border in Ohio
April 28, 2010 - My front flower bed faces the North. For the past 2 yrs. I lost 5-6 perennials. What can I plant that will make it with little sun. I don't want hostas nor ferns, nor short ground covers. I want col...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant privacy fence for shade in Hill Country
April 28, 2009 - I am looking for a shrub to plant along a privacy fence that gets 8+ feet tall, fast growing, preferably native, deer resistant, and can tolerate mostly shade. I reside in the Hill Country area. Tha...
view the full question and answer

Shade plants for a childrens garden in Magnolia, TX
June 21, 2009 - What shade plants would be good to plant in a Children's garden at a learning center?
view the full question and answer

What habitat would my Antennaria solitaria like in Red Bank, TN?
October 26, 2010 - I want to know what habitat my mystery plant will like- sun, shade, dry or moist. I think it is an Antennaria solitaria or Little Pussytoes. I got it at a native plant sale here in Chattanooga. It has...
view the full question and answer

Starting shade-tolerant ground covers in New York
September 10, 2013 - Hi, I have seen some of the posts for shade-tolerant ground cover on the east end of Long Island and my question is process related. Now that I've identified the grasses/plants I need to keep my fro...
view the full question and answer

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