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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - March 15, 2013

From: Waco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Shade Tolerant Grasses and Groundcovers for Waco TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


What is the best shade-tolerant grass? What is the best shade-tolerant ground cover?


Mr Smarty Plants thinks “best” is a bit too dependent on what you want from the grass or groundcover to just give you an answer and think it would be definitive.    Of course, you have required “shade-tolerant” and as you asked “Mr Smarty Plants”  – The Wildlflower Centers bias towards native plant solutions will be considered necessary.

  A good start is to consider our “Recommended” collections.  It turns out – We actually do have a collection for "Plants for Dry Shade in Central Texas". Of course, this list has all sorts of plants, not just grasses and ground-covers, but you can then limit the selection to those and review the results.

  Another of my favorite ways is to scan the  previous Mr Smarty Plants answers.  Interestingly, there seem to be none from Waco specifically, but then there are lots from Texas towns that are middlin’ close.

Groundcover for vineyard from Round Rock, TX
Plants under Oak Trees in Austin TX
Groundcovers for Kingsland TX
Native replacement for non-native Bermudagrass in Leander TX
Native turf grasses for shady lawn
Tough grasses for shade
Shade tolerant groundcover plants for Tarrant County, Texas
Native grasses for shady yard in Austin
Native grasses or sedges for a border in Texas

There’s lots of additional information in those, but scanning them for consistency, the most recommended grasses are Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge) and Carex texensis (Texas sedge), and the most recommended ground-covers are Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) and Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit).  That should give you the spirit of "most popular"!

Hope this is usefull!   MSP


From the Image Gallery

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

More Groundcovers Questions

Native turf grass for Denison TX
January 27, 2014 - I have researched many grasses for sandy soil in Denison,Tx that are easy mantainance. Habiturf has been recommended but is mostly Buffalo grass and is not recommended for sandy soil. What other opt...
view the full question and answer

Ground covers for sandy hill in New York
April 12, 2006 - We have just built a new home and a sandy fill was needed around the house. It sits on a hill and the fill is very sandy. We would like to plant something to stabilize the bank that is native to the a...
view the full question and answer

Native ground cover for Fort Lauderdale, FL.
November 02, 2010 - I just moved into a duplex with a narrow back yard with dark sandy soil and no irrigation system. I travel and am looking for a hardy ground cover that can take heat, drought and limited sun between 1...
view the full question and answer

New gardener on lawn for Poolville TX
April 28, 2012 - I have never had the opportunity to have a nice yard until recently when I got married. My husband loves a nice yard and we have worked very hard and put in hours of work. We are learning by trial a...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant plants for IN
August 23, 2011 - What are some plants that would do well in an east facing area near my front door? I live in Indianapolis IN. I need something that is drought resistant and will fill in a 4x3 foot walled off area th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center