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?


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
1 rating

Saturday - April 16, 2011

From: Dover, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Ornamental shade grasses for Dover AR
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Ornamental shade grasses for sandy soil or silt, part shade, or even vines.


We are going to direct you to our Native Plant Database, and teach you how to make choices there for yourself, although we will give you some examples. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow natively. This is because a plant native to an area is already accustomed, by millennia of experience, to the climate, rainfall and soils of that area. This is a great conservation move, because artificial fertilizers, supplementary watering and chemicals will be needed in moderation, if at all.

Following the link above, you will get a page with "Combination Search" on it, with which you can select the state where you garden, types of plants, shade and sun conditions, even soil moisture. When you have checked all that are appropriate on the sidebar on the right-hand side of the page, click on "Combination Search" at the bottom of the page, and you will get a list of plants that fit your requirements. If you put in too many conditions, you may get no selections at all, so you will have to compromise and figure out what you can do without or change in your specifications. You can organize the same Search for vines, trees, shrubs, ferns, succulents or ferns.

We will go to the Combination Search, select Arkansas in the drop-down menu, part shade in Light Requirements and whatever else you think applies. You will get a list of 96 grasses native to Arkansas. Follow each plant link on that list to determine what soils that plant prefers, expected size of the plant, whether it is evergreen, bloom time and color, etc. If you don't like these, you should be able to do the same thing and find others you like better. We selected some that we already have some experience with, and checked the USDA Plant Profiles on each to assure that that each could be grown in Pope County, USDA Hardiness Zones 7a to 7b. If you need more local advice, contact the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service for Pope County. Here is a list of the grasses that we thought would do well for you:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) - 4-8 ft, tall, perennial, medium water use, sun (6 hours of sun or more) or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun).

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - 2 to 4 ft, perennial, medium water use, part shade or shade (less than 2 hours of sun daily).

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye or canada wild rye) - 2-4 ft. perennial, medium water use, sun or part shade.

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) - 18 to 24", perennial, sun or part shade.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Andropogon gerardii

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Schizachyrium scoparium





More Shade Tolerant Questions

Grasses for shade in McKinney TX
August 19, 2010 - Dear Sir, We have lived in the same house for 25 years and when we originally moved in we had St. Augustine sod installed and for several years it did very well until my trees started getting bigge...
view the full question and answer

Shade-loving native plants for South Carolina
January 08, 2008 - I am looking to incorporate a native plants section in my backyard. Shade seems to be a limiting factor in some parts, especially where I would look to create a natural hedge bordering my neighbor's...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing evergreen shade shrub for Lincoln NH
September 14, 2009 - I need a fast-growing, shade loving evergreen shrub that will give us privacy and grow in and around some White Pines whose branches were pruned to 4 - 6 ft above the ground. The house is in Lincoln ...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a shrub to provide shade to the west side of a home in Ft. Worth, TX
February 07, 2011 - We are on a corner lot and are looking for a tall tree or shrub to block the west side of our house. There is only a 5 foot area space between the sidewalk and side driveway where we want to plant th...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing vine for shade in Brooklyn
June 05, 2011 - I am looking for a flowering vine that is fast growing and will be able to flower this season if I plant it within next couple weeks (in June) here in Brooklyn. I want something that will grow up a pi...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center