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

Wednesday - June 15, 2011

From: Cape Coral, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shaded Groundcover for Florida
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


Looking for ground cover for shade. Area is between two houses. Something with minimal amount of work and care.


Sure!  Natives are the way to go when you are looking for minimal work & care; after all they had to survive on their own in your area for a long time.  What we like to do for this type of question is to recommend that you be sure to review the pages that the Native Plant Society of Florida puts out.  They get so detailed that they actually have a list of Recommended Plants for Lee County.  I took that list and compared it to those that thrive in shade or partial shade in our NPIN list of recommended plants for Central Florida, and there were three groundcovers that both agreed upon - - looks like some pretty good choices.

 They are Ipomoea pes-caprae (Railroad vine)Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) and Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass).

If you wish to stretch slightly beyond just groundcover – check out the rest of those lists.  There are also two appropriate previous Mr Smarty Plants discussions from your general area.  One from North Port discussing groundcovers but without the shade requirement and another from Tampa which was more concerned about whether the plants were deer resistant.


From the Image Gallery

Railroad vine
Ipomoea pes-caprae

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium angustifolium

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Replacement for grass under non-native weeping willow from Yorba Linda CA
April 24, 2012 - What would be a good replacement for the grass currently growing under a weeping willow? Something requiring low maintenance, the problem is with mowing over and around the roots.
view the full question and answer

Need plants to shade on a west-facing wall in Houston, TX
April 28, 2010 - What plants are best to provide shade on a west facing wall in Houston. I am looking for plants that help to cool the house.
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade native to New York
June 13, 2006 - I am gradually trying to convert my garden to all natives. I am working in a shaded area under a maple tree. Are there any varieties of epimediums/barrenwort or hellebores that are native to the nor...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shade in San Antonio
March 21, 2008 - I have a large red oak tree in the front yard. It is keeping any sun except filtered underneath. Faces n/w and in san antonio. I need a ground cover that is drought tolerant and likes the shade and h...
view the full question and answer

Grass for shade under Post Oaks in Austin
October 04, 2008 - Can you recommend a water conserving grass for shade under Post Oaks in Austin. Very gravelly poor nutrient soil. thanks!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center