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Mr. Smarty Plants - Ornamental shade grasses for Dover AR

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Saturday - April 16, 2011

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

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