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
2 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

Green roof plants tolerating shade
July 01, 2006 - I am researching extensive greenroof plants for a potential site in Austin. The roof surface is shaded for most days of the the year. Are there any top choices for plants for this condition?
view the full question and answer

Trees for shade in Austin
May 20, 2012 - I live in Austin and I am looking for a good tree to plant under a large live oak I have in my backyard. Something slow-growing of course and, the garden only gets late day sun for about an hour. Filt...
view the full question and answer

Native vine for shade on west side in Texas
July 21, 2008 - I have just put in a trellis to cover the west side of my house for shade. What would be the best native vine to put their for quick growth. I plan on putting a rose (Fortunia) but can't do that till...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for horses in Merced, CA
January 21, 2011 - I would like to plant some trees to provide shade for horses in the pasture. What native trees are drought resistant (water may be spotty in the summer) yet safe for the animals? I live in the Calif...
view the full question and answer

Small, drought and shade-tolerant perennials for Austin, Texas
March 22, 2010 - We need suggestions for small, drought- and shade-tolerant perennials to be planted in Austin, Texas, please.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center