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
1 rating

Monday - December 10, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Xeriscapes, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs, Vines
Title: Plants under Oak Trees in Austin TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Half of my small yard is in the shade of one big live oak and one kumquat. Nothing I plant grows in this shade. The other half of my yard gets sunlight. It is planted with Jasmine grass which grows well except in extreme drought. What grass or plants would grow in the shaded area of my yard? Or should I xeroscape? Thank you.

ANSWER:

   Finding something decent to grow under a Live Oak is one of those eternal challenges for the Austin area.  As such, these three question/answer pairs from the Mr Smarty Archives contain a pretty good selection of advice towards native plants that will cope with the shade, alleleopathy and dense roots under a live Oak.

Ground Cover under Oaks in Austin
Good One:    Ground Cover under Live Oaks 
2-4 Ft Shrub for Oak Shaded bed  

   For the other half of your yard, you didn’t voice an explicit question – BUT – Mr Smarty Plants noticed that mention of Jasmine grass. We suspect you mean Asiatic Jasmine [Trachelospermum asiaticum] which is an import from Asia, specifically Korea and Japan.   As Wildflower Center aficionados, we feel honor bound to advise you to get rid of that non-native and replace it with a good native.  There is a good selection of native groundcovers and vines that have similar growth habits.  Consider the perennial herbs: Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) or Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy), and the vines:  Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) or Ipomoea cordatotriloba var. cordatotriloba (Tievine).

   Finally - "Should you Xeriscape"  [note spelling!].  Yes, most certainly, if that is a type of look for your yard that you would appreciate.  It clearly is a strong approach if you like the low-maintenance aspect and there is an excellent selection of native plants that are well adapted to the kind of rainfall and sun that we see around here.  One of the better solutions for the area under an Oak is a type of xeriscape. This is to use a cover(plastic, cardboard) to suppress the suckers, then cover that with a thick layer of mulch on top. Here are a couple good links I read when I searched "Xeriscape" - Their questions are remarkably like yours!

Mr. Smarty Plants advice on Xeriscaping
Replacing Ivy with Texas Groundcovers

 

From the Image Gallery


Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Tievine
Ipomoea cordatotriloba var. cordatotriloba

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Less Maintenance Plant Suggestions for New Raised Bed in Henderson, NV.
April 03, 2014 - We have a newly constructed raised garden bed. I was wondering what kind of plants would be appropriate to plant this springtime in Henderson, NV with less maintenance because I work full time.
view the full question and answer

Dwarf oyster plant dying in Sunrise FL
July 06, 2012 - WHAT WOULD BE KILLING MY DWARF OYSTER PLANTS
view the full question and answer

Is Phyla lanceolata (frogfruit) poisonous to dogs fromTitusville FL?
June 01, 2014 - Is Phyla lanceolata, also called Fogfruit, Lanceleaf Fogfruit, or Northern Fogfruit, toxic to dogs? We have it growing amongst our grass. I can't find it on any toxic plant list.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Norman, OK
October 10, 2013 - I have two large plants in my back yard that just sprang up on their own this year. They are beautiful and the butterflies and bees love them. I think they are a type of milkweed, but they don't lo...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen from Simpsonville SC
May 04, 2013 - My neighbor cut down his part of our shared woods so now we see his whole "outside patio area". What kinds of fast growing shade loving trees and shrubs can we plant on our property line that will c...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center