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
1 rating

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

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Ground covers for a shady spot in central Texas
February 23, 2016 - I reside in Austin, Texas and need advice on my xeriscaping project. Portions of my front yard have always been a challenge to get grass to grow, so I have xeriscaped that area with Fairland Pink gran...
view the full question and answer

Native shade plants for sandy soil in New York
April 30, 2008 - I have a small patch (about 10 feet x 6 feet) of shady ground next to my house. The soil is very sandy. I really would like some perennial color - or at this point, anything actually - that will grow...
view the full question and answer

Plants for border garden in shade in Austin
March 15, 2009 - Need suggestion for what to plant in a border garden. We live in northwest Austin and the garden is north-facing and shaded. Currently are oleanders but they don't get enough sun. Also growing are...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for partial shade in Pennsylvania
April 04, 2008 - Much of my growing area in Northern exposure, shade-partial shade once trees get leaves. I'm looking for native plants to use for screens and for ground-covers, grasses and edible plants.
view the full question and answer

ground covers for shady areas in New York City
June 27, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: What would be the best ground covers for big shady areas in New York City instead of lawns?
view the full question and answer

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