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?

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
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

Monday - May 29, 2006

From: Glenview, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Transplants, Shade Tolerant
Title: Saving or transplanting stand of white trillium that has lost shade
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

We have a generous stand of white trillium that has been under the shade of a white oak for many years. Now the 100+ year old oak has died and the trilliums are in the sun. Are we in danger of losing them? If so, how do we save them? We have heard transplanting is very difficult and thought if we planted huge hostas like the sum and substance around the trillium that the hosta would provide shade. What do you think and do you have a better suggestion?

ANSWER:

Trilliums prefer to be on the floor of mature, hardwood, primarily deciduous forests in some amount of shade. If they are now in full sun throughout the day, they may very well expire. However, if they're still getting dappled shade from other neighboring trees or shrubs, especially during the hottest part of the day, they may pull through. Hostas might work, but it's hard to know for sure.

What would probably be better in the long run would be to plant native deciduous trees or shrubs near them, tall enough to provide at least dappled shade from the outset. That way, the woody plants' leaves will provide the kind of shade with which the trilliums have evolved and will also enrich the soil when they drop in the fall, contributing to the kind of woodland soil to which trilliums are accustomed.

The Illinois Plant Information Network notes that Trillium grandiflorum, the best known white trillium and one native to your state, is often found growing among the following trees and shrubs:

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
American Basswood (Tilia americana)

Planting young specimens of one or two of those trees, tall enough to provide shade during the day, is one idea. Our Native Plant Database can help you learn about the many other kinds of deciduous trees and shrubs native to your area, and our National Suppliers Directory can help you locate plants when it's time to purchase.

If you do decide to attempt transplanting, it's best to wait until the plants go dormant and then get as much of the root and surrounding soil as possible. A local chapter of your state's native plant society or of the Wild Ones may be able to give you more information on how best to do this, if at all. Many native plant societies do plant rescues and they may well have had experience salvaging trilliums in your area.

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

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

Wildlife Attracting Plants for a Shady Patio
July 03, 2014 - We have a concrete patio that receives 2-3 hours of sunlight a day, so the only plants we will be able to grow will be in container. We are looking for plants that do well in shade, and containers and...
view the full question and answer

Grass to grow in the shade of pecan tree
December 10, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, We have an enormous pecan tree in our backyard that had grass underneath the breadth of the branches, but not around the trunk. The grass isn't doing well (though we did fai...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental grasses under desert willows from Dallas, TX
September 06, 2013 - I am planning on planting 3 desert willows in full sun, below the power lines at the back of my back yard in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. I would like to plant some ornamental grasses in the be...
view the full question and answer

Shade-loving Grass for the Houston area
February 09, 2011 - I have an ash tree that completely shades the majority of our front yard and is not allowing the St. Augustine grass to grow. Is there a shade-loving grass good for the Houston area?
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center