En Español

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

Plants for a shady garden in Wisconsin
June 22, 2009 - I have a shady garden in southeastern Wisconsin (Milwaukee) and am interested in introducing more native plants of all sizes and heights, hopefully with lovely flowers. I would love to know what you ...
view the full question and answer

Hardy plant with minimal care for shade in dry soil
June 22, 2009 - I have a weekend house in Hawley, PA where I try to garden - often with poor results. There is a spot on the northeast corner of my foundation where I have put plant after plant - but none of them su...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers suitable for full sun and partial shade in the Dallas, Texas area
October 22, 2007 - What wildflowers are best for the Dallas area both in sunny and semi shade locations? Are you able to purchase by mail?
view the full question and answer

Edible plants in shade in Enville TN
June 15, 2009 - I have a flower bed against the back of my house with nothing in it. We moved into this house late last year and I was planning on planting some tomato plants there until I discovered it never gets an...
view the full question and answer

Low plants for shady, damp area in Roanoke, TX
November 13, 2008 - First, thanks for answering my first question about Texas Native Trees for our new home! I have just started working on plans for our back yard and have a question about Texas Native Shade plants. W...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center