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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - April 26, 2006

From: Long Beach, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Ferns, Shrubs, Vines
Title: Native plants with little sun and northern exposure for New York
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

I live in a co-op and want to fix up the backyard. The backyard area has a west area to plant with a northern exposure and little sun and I am looking to plant something to cover the area. I would like it to grow or climb. The backyard faces another building. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Though I'm not sure what your soil is like or what kind of moisture the backyard space receives, I can make a few initial suggestions of plants native to New York that might do well in your area.

For shade in the Northeast, ferns immediately come to mind:

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
Crested Woodfern (Dryopteris cristata)
New York Fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis)

A well-known groundcovering and climbing vine native to your area that can also tolerate shade is Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

I don't know how large your space is, but moderate-sized New York shrubs that can grow in shade include Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) and Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia).

You can get more ideas by perusing our Regional Factpack for the Northeast, and be sure and check our National Suppliers Directory when you're ready to purchase plants.

 

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