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 Xeriscapes Questions

Appropriate use of redbud from Austin
May 04, 2014 - I am considering purchasing a hearts of gold redbud; I am also xeriscaping my front yard. I live in Austin,TX. Will this tree do ok in full Tx sun (8+ hours) with once a week watering? If this...
view the full question and answer

Recommendations for native plants for Dallas Co., TX
May 12, 2007 - Looking for a Recommendation: Can you suggest a plant that meets the following requirements? ENVIRONMENT -- - I live in Garland, in Dallas County, TX. - The soil is primarily clay. - Full sun...
view the full question and answer

Need to plant something in the cracks in my patio in Skipperville, AL.
February 06, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I have a cement patio full of cracks. I would like to grow some sort of plant or plants in the cracks. I live in lower Alabama, and my patio is in full sunlight. Do you have an...
view the full question and answer

Low-maintenance native plants for Arizona
March 12, 2009 - Will you please suggest some Native plants that can be left without care for the summer and survive - other than cactus?
view the full question and answer

Problem garden strip in Austin
May 22, 2014 - Currently I live in the west half of a duplex. There is a small strip of dirt about two feet wide between the wall and the sidewalk in the backyard. It faces west, meaning it only gets sunlight duri...
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