Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 27, 2011

From: Long Island City, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: ground covers for shady areas in New York City
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: What would be the best ground covers for big shady areas in New York City instead of lawns?

ANSWER:

I'm sorry your question and answer seemed to disappear into the Internet without leaving a trace.  Here is essentially what I wrote:

There is quite a variety of plants to choose from, depending upon your conditions, e.g. full shade, part shade, moist, dry, need for low-growing or taller species.  Grasses generally do not do well in shade, but you could use a sedge, such as Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge).  This would look nice interspersed with other short speicies like Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry), Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet) (if the site is dry),or Viola sororia (Missouri violet) (if the site is moist).  Ferns should do well.  In moist spots, Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern) or Osmunda regalis (Royal fern), and in dryer spots, Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern).  If taller plants are desirable, consider Hypericum prolificum (Shrubby st. johnswort), Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum (Feathery false lily of the valley), Maianthemum stellatum (Starry false lily of the valley), and Lobelia siphilitica (Great blue lobelia).  Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New england aster) should thrive in partly sunny areas.

Clicking on the names shown above will give you more information on each one.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Birdfoot violet
Viola pedata

Missouri violet
Viola sororia

Cinnamon fern
Osmunda cinnamomea

Royal fern
Osmunda regalis

Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Shrubby st. john's-wort
Hypericum prolificum

Starry false lily of the valley
Maianthemum stellatum

Feathery false lily of the valley
Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum

Great blue lobelia
Lobelia siphilitica

New england aster
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Landscaping north facing wall
November 08, 2010 - We live in the Dallas area and have a north facing home with a large, bare wall. I would like to plant a tall, flowering shrub that will look nice all year round. Or are there flowering vines that a...
view the full question and answer

Shade tree for Portland, OR
March 18, 2009 - Looking for shade tree for Portland, Oregon, with non-invasive root system. House will be 20 ft away, with basement.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Vine for San Antonio Trellis
November 23, 2011 - I have a new trellis at the end of my patio on which I want to grow an evergreen vine. The area is fairly shady. I had settled on Carolina Jasmine, but read that it is very toxic which is worrisome ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for shady site in Tyler TX
February 24, 2009 - I live in Tyler Texas and have a lot of shade and sandy soil. No grass will grow and I was wondering if I should look at ground cover instead? If so, what grows in shade and sand? I have tried sever...
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling plants for a shady Minnesota lakeside
August 11, 2015 - I live about 50 yards from a lake and there is a steep embankment. Recently someone decided to cut the trees off the embankment and now the dirt is eroding off the embankment as well as off my back ya...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.