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

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

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Tievine
Ipomoea cordatotriloba var. cordatotriloba

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Vines Questions

Is Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) known to cause skin irritation
July 23, 2013 - Is Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata L.) known to cause a rash? We are trying to identify the source of a rash-after-gardening, and have not seen any of the big three (poison ivy, poison oak, poison suma...
view the full question and answer

Niagara and Concord grape crop failure
September 01, 2008 - Hi, I have been growing niagara grapes and concord grapes for 3 years now and this year I found myself without any fruits. The plant itself if full of leaves and is healthy. I was wondering why this w...
view the full question and answer

Native vine to cover chain link fence in Massachusetts
March 21, 2008 - I have a chain link fence I don't want to bother taking down, any suggestions on a clinging vine that will rapidly attach itself to the links and eventually cover it with a green "blanket"? thanks
view the full question and answer

A Pipevine poisonous to Pipevine Swallowtails
May 30, 2008 - I have heard that a specific Pipevine is poisonous to the larva of Pipevine Swallowtails. Is this true? If so, what is the poisonous species of Pipevine, and what other types can I plant that will not...
view the full question and answer

Vine to attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds in Austin
March 09, 2016 - We'd like suggestions for a climbing, flowering, butterfly/hummingbird friendly plant for our Austin, TX backyard!!
view the full question and answer

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