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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - August 10, 2012

From: Greeley, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant
Title: Groundcovers for area under blue spruce in Colorado
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a 40 ft blue spruce limbed up 6 ft in my yard on the west in Greeley, CO (50 mi N Denver, zone 4 or 5). It gets some sun underneath in the later afternoon and evening. Can you suggest 4 to 5 ground covers that might do well under the tree? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Here are suggestions for groundcovers for shade/part shade that should work well under your blue spruce.  All the species are known to occur in Weld County or in adjacent counties in Colorado. 

Mahonia repens (Creeping barberry) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Montana Plant-Life.org.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) is evergreen.  Here is more information from BluePlanetBiomes.org.

Linnaea borealis (Twinflower) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Rook.org.

Paxistima myrsinites (Mountain lover) is evergreen.  Here is more information from SWColoradoWildflowers.org.

The remainder of the suggestions are deciduous or, at best, semi-evergreen.  They could add interest and color for the spring, summer and fall.

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow)

Actaea rubra (Red baneberry)

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly-everlasting)

Aquilegia caerulea (Colorado blue columbine)

Aquilegia flavescens (Yellow mountain columbine)

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood)

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Creeping barberry
Mahonia repens

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Twinflower
Linnaea borealis

Oregon boxleaf
Paxistima myrsinites

Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Red baneberry
Actaea rubra

Western pearly everlasting
Anaphalis margaritacea

Colorado blue columbine
Aquilegia coerulea



Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

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