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Monday - April 16, 2012

From: Oklahoma City, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Shade tolerant Wildflowers for Oklahoma City
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


I live in Oklahoma City. I'm not in town very often, and am seeking low maintenance plants. I have MANY trees in my backyard, which makes it quite shady. I have raised beds amongst my rock garden and have not been able to grow anything after my first year of putting the beds in. The only thing that comes back are the hostas, if I'm lucky. I've tried to plant more hostas, but most, usually the new ones, do not take. What plants do you recommend for such a bed? Is there such a plant that is drought tolerant and shade friendly?


For low maintenance plants, that are drought tolerant and shade friendly, your best chances are with the native plants that will grow by themselves in your area.  Last year was an ugly drought though, so it doesn’t surprise me much that the plants in your raised beds had trouble.

Mr Smarty Plants recommendations come out of the RECOMMENDED SPECIES lists maintained by the LBJ Wildflower Center. This link is to the plants that are native to Oklahoma, and the list has the capability of being sorted for “shade tolerant” and for “herb” as an aspect.  I added "herb" because I presume you want flowers or low-growing plants for your beds in your rock garden.

That yielded eleven wildflowers, with many attractive choices.  Consider these:

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Iris cristata (Dwarf crested iris)

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)

Phlox divaricata (Wild blue phlox)

Salvia coccinea (Scarlet sage)

Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet)

There are more, of course, and also shrubs or trees if you are looking for larger plants. You didn't mention whether your rock garden tended towards staying moist or dry when watered, this is an important consideration you should include in your choice of plants.

Mr Smarty Plants will leave it to you to consider the colors and the seasons of the blooms!

Enjoy your garden!  


From the Image Gallery

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Dwarf crested iris
Iris cristata

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Wild blue phlox
Phlox divaricata

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

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