En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Redoing garden in Memphis TN

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 - July 25, 2011

From: Memphis, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting
Title: Redoing garden in Memphis TN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please help. I don't know much about landscaping and plants and I am re-doing my flower bed. I recently had everything pulled out and I want to start fresh. The area that I will be working with is approximately 10 feet long and 3 feet deep so, it's not a large area. The home faces north so whatever goes in the area will need to be able to survive in the shade. I would like to plant shrubs and flowers that are low maintenance, colorful, and don't grow tall. Any help that you can provide will be appreciated.

ANSWER:

We love new gardeners - we feel like we can start them off right. First of all, let us introduce you to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, and outstanding proponent of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants are being grown. We have How-To Articles on Using Native Plants and A Guide to Native Plant Gardening. Please read both of them to help you understand the economic and environmental reasons behind the use of native plants. An important point: now is the time for planning your garden, but not for planting. It is simply too hot all over the country right now to even think about planting.

To help you begin your planning, let's talk dirt. Shelby County, in the southwest corner of the state, is in USDA Hardiness Zone 7a. We're guessing you have an acidic clay soil, but a guess is not good enough. Contact the University of Tennessee Extension Office for Shelby County. They can give you information on soils, or will even help you get a soil sample. This is important because you don't want to select plants that need an alkaline soil, if you are planting in acidic soil. If you have a clay soil, you need to be prepared to improve drainage in your planting area before you begin to plant.

Finally, we are ready to help you select plants for your garden. Go to our Native Plants Database, and use the "Combination Search." Select Tennessee, either "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) or "shrub" under Habit and then check the other characteristics you are concerned with, then click on "Submit combination search." It would help if you watch the area where you are planting for a day and determine exactly how much sun it is getting. "Sun" is 6 hours or more of sun a day, "part shade," 2 to 6 hours and "shade" two hours or less. We should warn you that it is difficult to get much in the way of blooming plants in full shade. We are going to check "part shade" and "shade" and search first on herbaceous blooming plants, checking "perennial" under Duration, and then on shrubs. Here are a few suggestions for you to look at before you make your own search. Follow the italicized link to our webpage on each plant to learn about their growing conditions, the soils they can thrive in, bloom color and time and so forth. 

Herbaceous Blooming Plants for Memphis TN: 207 possibilities

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Equisetum arvense (Field horsetail)

Shrubs: 68 possibilities

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush)

Cornus amomum (Silky dogwood)

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea)

 

From the Image Gallery


Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Field horsetail
Equisetum arvense

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Silky dogwood
Cornus amomum

Oakleaf hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

More Planting Questions

Vegetables to plant now from Marble Falls TX
January 28, 2013 - What are the best vegetables to plant now?
view the full question and answer

Should I purchase wax myrtle plants as liners or pots
July 18, 2011 - I want to buy some wax myrtle over internet.Place has wax myrtle "liners" They look very thin. Will these bushes grow quickly or should I spend more $ for 1 gallon plants. Just need a hedge fairly q...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for trees with non-invasive root system in Paramus, NJ.
August 23, 2011 - What trees can I plant in New Jersey with non invasive root systems? We lost our tree to a storm and are looking for a viable replacement.
view the full question and answer

Planting Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)
October 27, 2011 - Is it too late to plant Gulf Muhly seed in North Texas (October)?
view the full question and answer

Annual ryegrass and Habiturf from Austin
October 31, 2013 - We've decided to put Habiturf in our freshly cleared back yard that was overgrown with sticky burs and crabgrass, but now that it is fall, would you recommend putting in a cover crop of annual ryegra...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center