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
3 ratings

Thursday - August 09, 2012

From: Kenmore, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant
Title: Low maintenance, shade tolerant groundcover for Pacific Northwest
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What's a good low maintenance, shade tolerant ground cover for the Pacific Northwest? It needs to have good erosion control, too.

ANSWER:

There are several excellent sources to help you choose your plants.  Your county, King County, has a Native Plant Guide with plant lists and How-to articles.  The Washington Native Plant Society has a page, Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects, with plant list categories which includes a list for Groundcovers:  Evergreen, Deciduous.  Here are suggestions from these sources for shade tolerant groundcovers with additional information from our Native Plant Database:

Linnaea borealis (Twinflower) is evergreen and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Mahonia nervosa (Cascade barberry) is evergreen and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Achlys triphylla (Sweet after death or Vanilla leaf) and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger) and information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Cornus unalaschkensis (Bunchberry) although not evergreen, it is perennial with rhizomes that will aid in erosion control.  Here is information from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Polystichum munitum (Western swordfern) is evergreen and grows to 3 feet but could function in a groundcover area.  Here is information from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide and from Washington Native Plant Society.

You can find more possibilities in Native plants for deep shade on the King County Northwest Native Plant Guide page.

Washington State University Extension's Gardening in Western Washington has links to publications, fact sheets and websites that you might find helpful.

 

From the Image Gallery


Twinflower
Linnaea borealis

Sweet after death
Achlys triphylla

Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Western swordfern
Polystichum munitum

More Shade Tolerant Questions

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

Evergreen Deck Plant for Oregon
May 29, 2011 - Need evergreen shrub to grow in shade in container 5ft tall for deck.
view the full question and answer

Shade grasses for central Texas
November 16, 2014 - We are new to the area and bought a home this summer that has lots of shade in the very small backyard. The problem is that there was new sod laid in the backyard which now is 50% dead. We do not kno...
view the full question and answer

Plants for no sun in Austin
May 12, 2010 - I need recommendations for shrubs that can withstand no sun, something that possibly blooms but does not attract bees, wasps, or any stinging insects (hummingbirds or butterflies ok).
view the full question and answer

Sedges or grasses for sun/shade in Georgetown, TX
March 24, 2008 - I have an area that is part shaded (under oak trees) and part in the sun. I would like cedar sedge in the shaded areas (some is already growing there)but I can not find where to buy it. Do you know w...
view the full question and answer

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