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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - May 11, 2006

From: Milwaukee, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Native flowers and ground cover for damp, shady area in Wisconsin
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I would like to plant some flowers and ground cover in the front of my yard near my home. This spot is usually damp and nearly always shaded. Any suggestions? Also I'm looking for blue flowering plants. Any suggestions? I currently reside in Wisconsin.


Here are a few suggestions for plants for that will grow in moist soil and shade in your area and are commercially available:

Yellow marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris)
Closed bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii Griseb.)
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Jacob's ladder (Polemonium occidentale)

I am not sure whether you are looking for blue flowers for the wet shaded area, or whether your blue flowers are for a different area with sun and drier soil. The Jacob's ladder above has flowers that are blue, and the following list contains blue flowers that require sun. Some prefer dry soil and some prefer wet. You can check out the Growing Conditions for each plant from the menu at the top of each page.

Great blue flag (Iris virginica)
Narrow-leaf blue-eyed- grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
Sky-blue american aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense)
Blue larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum)

You can find more plants that fit your criteria by searching in the Native Plants Database. Choose Combination Search from the menu near the bottom of the page to select different criteria (e.g., Bloom Characteristics, Growing Conditions, etc.) for locating your plants. You can find sources for native plants in your area when you visit our National Suppliers Directory.

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Deer Resistant part shade plants for Austin:
March 28, 2010 - What evergreen shrubs would you recommend for a partly-shaded area, next to a wall, which can be trimmed to keep their shape and height (for symmetry)..this is for a front gate to a community, so we n...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses to accompany buffalograss in shade
May 01, 2008 - What grass goes with buffalo for shade/partial shade?
view the full question and answer

North-central Texas shrubs for part-shade
March 30, 2011 - I need a shrub that will be OK in shade (2-3 hrs a day max.), in fairly well-drained soil, will grow to around 8 ft. tall and 4-6 wide, for the region between Denton and Gainesville. If it flowers, al...
view the full question and answer

Screening bush for shady area
June 05, 2008 - I need some kind of bush that will act as an air conditioning blind. So far the deer have eaten or destroyed everything planted in the very shady mulch bed. What do you recommend?
view the full question and answer

Understory Shrubs for Pennsylvania Clay
December 04, 2013 - I want to replace three non-native Euonymus alatus with native shrubs that will serve as host plants for butterfly/moth species and/or attract bumblebees and other native bees. The shrubs I have are ...
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