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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - March 31, 2013

From: Winter Haven, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Ferns, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants to grow in shady sand in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live in central Florida (directly between Orlando and Tampa). Our yard is mostly sand for soil and difficult parts in shade almost all day from large trees. What ground cover (grass) and hedges can we use in these areas? Nothing we have tried has lived.

ANSWER:

The Florida Native Plant Society has an excellent feature on its webpage called Natives for Landscaping—Choose Your Location where you click on your county to select it and then make choices for "Light Range", "Water Needs" and "Soil" to aid you in choosing the right plant for your site.  I chose Polk County and "Shade" and "Sand".  Since I wasn't sure of the soil moisture, I left that criteria unselected.   Below are some of the plants that resulted from the search in Polk County for plants that will grow in the shade and in the sand.

Very few grasses grow well in the shade.  The only grass resulting from the search was Oplismenus hirtellus (Bristle basketgrass).  It is dormant in the winter but makes a nice groundcover during the spring, summer and fall.

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry) is a very small evergreen plant that will make a low groundcover.  Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit) is winter dormant.  Here is more information from Florida Native Plant Society.

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) is deciduous and can grow to as tall as 6 feet.   Here is more information from Florida Native Plant Society.

Ruellia caroliniensis (Carolina wild petunia) is winter dormant.   Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Saururus cernuus (Lizard's tail) is evergreen.   Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Teucrium canadense (Canada germander) is winter dormant.   Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

 Verbesina virginica (Frostweed) is deciduous.  Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Ferns do well in shade and part shade.  The following ferns grow in Polk County and are evergreen.

Dryopteris ludoviciana (Southern woodfern) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Florida Native Plant Society.

Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston swordfern) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Florida Native Plant Society.

Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern) is evergreen in Florida.   Here is more information about the genus Thelypteris from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Here are a few shrubs that will grow in shade and sand:

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush) is deciduous.   Here is more information from Florida Native Plant Society.

Ardisia escallonoides (Island marlberry) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Florida Native Plant Society.

Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Florida Native Plant Society.

You can search the Florida Native Plant Society page for more possibilities for plants.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Jack in the pulpit
Arisaema triphyllum

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Carolina wild petunia
Ruellia caroliniensis

Lizard's tail
Saururus cernuus

Canada germander
Teucrium canadense

Frostweed
Verbesina virginica

Southern woodfern
Dryopteris ludoviciana

Boston swordfern
Nephrolepis exaltata

Wood fern
Thelypteris kunthii

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

East Texas Natives and Botanical History
May 05, 2011 - I am looking for flowers &/or flowering shrubs that are native to east Texas, especially that would have been in this area over 100 or more years ago.
view the full question and answer

Is there a purple passion hibiscus?
May 27, 2009 - Hello! I bought a climbing vine in a hanging basket that looks like a passion flower vine to me. However, I was told that it was a "purple passion hibiscus." I cannot find such a flower on the inter...
view the full question and answer

Euphorbia 'Cherokee' leaves drying from Benson AZ
October 24, 2012 - I have a Euphorbia 'Cherokee' in a pot and has been growing nicely but some of the leaves are turning red and drying up and falling off. Is this normal for this plant?
view the full question and answer

Moving "lily of the valley" from MD to TX. Is that OK?
January 17, 2012 - My question pertains to lily of the valley. From your database, I learned that it is a native plant but only the following states were listed: GA , KY , NC , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV. I am moving from...
view the full question and answer

Overwintering Cardinal Flower in Thornwood NY
October 01, 2009 - I have 6 Cardinal Flower plants in planters. They have mulch on top to keep them moist. Can they stay in the planters all winter? Do I cut the stalks before winter comes or leave as is?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center