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

Thursday - April 07, 2011

From: Midlothian, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Groundcovers
Title: Non-toxic Groundcover for North-Central Texas
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I need a creeping ground cover for shade that is non-toxic to dogs. I had planned on Swedish ivy until I read it was toxic. Is Asian jasmine toxic? Or, do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Yes, we don’t recommend Swedish Ivy or Asian Jasmine either. This is because it is our mission to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes and both of those plants are non-native.  There are more than 350 species of Plectranthus spp. (Swedish ivy) that come from from Africa, Australia and Asia.  A few of them are named on this Univ. of Vermont page.  eHow states that “Swedish ivy is not native to Sweden and it is not technically ivy. It originated in Australia, but became a popular house plant in Sweden.”  I suspect it will not survive the winters in your area.  Similar statements apply to Trachelospermum asiaticum (Asian jasmine).  Here is a factsheet from NCSU about Trachelospermum asiaticum.  Asian Jasmine is native to Japan and Korea and can be quite invasive.

Mr Smarty Plants receives a lot of questions about whether a plant is toxic or not.  We tend to give a number of references and if a plant definitively shows in these references, then you can be sure it’s toxic; otherwise you can’t be sure whether or not it's poisonous.  Here are a few of these questions and answers; we didn’t find Swedish Ivy or Asian Jasmine listed in any of the sites.  One of the first questions to Mr Smarty Plants was a general request about plants poisonous to Dogs. Another question asked about pet-safe shrubs in McKinney and whether Coral Honeysuckle is poisonous to dogs.  These have good lists of references, I didn't find your plants listed in any of them, but you should check yourself to see if they appear on any of the lists.  Within all these references, one of the best "poisonous to dogs" sites is from the ASPCA and lists both poisonous plants and safe plants.  The listing is by common name but you can always use the "Find" search to look up scientific name--or the common name for that matter.  

So, what would I recommend?  There is a great search facility on this website.  It’s called “Recommended Species” and you can look at North-Central Texas and select “0-1 feet” and you’ll get several recommendations to consider.  Of this list, I liked Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena), Dichondra argentea (Silver ponyfoot), Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet), Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats), Phlox [Phlox pilosa (Downy phlox) or Phlox divaricata (Wild blue phlox)] and Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose).  All are tolerant of at least partial shade and will grow well in your area.  There were 40 recommended species of herbs and 10 that were 0-1 feet tall.

We also recommended two other species when asked a similar question where we explored groundcover for Possum Kingdom.  These are Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) or Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy).  The Frogfruit is expected to grow to 3"-6" and the Straggler daisy to 6"-12" at the maximum.  We have these in our backyard and our dogs have munched the Straggler Daisy, so I expect they will be OK!

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Silver ponyfoot
Dichondra argentea

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Lupinus perennis Poisonous to Dogs?
April 14, 2013 - I have heard that some lupine varieties are quite poisonous to dogs, others are not. Do you know if it's safe for my dogs if I plant and encourage Lupinus perennis in my NH meadow?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on poisonous plants
August 03, 2001 - Do you have a list of plants that are poisonous to children and pets?
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant with red berries toxic to dogs
August 29, 2011 - I recently retrieved my poor doggy from the Vet. He had eaten a berry from an invasive-commonly seen brushy plant growing along my neighbors fence line. We try to keep our side clear-but the small lar...
view the full question and answer

Root cuttings for non-native, poisonous oleander from Mobile AL
December 16, 2010 - I need help with best method to root cuttings from my oleander tree. Please advise best method. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Hardy plants for a narrow yard in Illinois
July 28, 2008 - I have an area in my yard that is approx 35 feet by 5 feet that is shaded on the east by a 4 ft fence and on the west by the house and above by trees. It slopes off to the neighbors yard (so doesn't ...
view the full question and answer

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