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?


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

Friday - March 29, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs, Vines
Title: South Austin Groundcovers for Oak Shade
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


Hi! I live in S. Austin now but used to work at the Wildflower Center! My backyard is shady with several oak mots. Do you have any suggestions as to what if any ground cover will grow in all that shade? Thanks, Peggy Budd


Greetings Peggy,   Yes, Mr Smarty Plants remembers you fondly.   [Mrs Smarty Plants too!]

We've got lots of suggestions.  Your question is one of those on our top ten list, so I’m going to  refer you to a few of the better answers from the recent past.  Several of those refer to even earlier questions, so I expect you can easily find a few suggestions from this body of work that will be pleasing to you in your S. Austin lawn. 

Plants under Oak Trees in Austin TX
Sunny and shady lawns from Austin 
Groundcover for Austin yard
Tolerant Grasses and Groundcovers for Waco TX
Groundcovers for Kingsland TX

 My favorites are in the pictures below!


From the Image Gallery

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Calyptocarpus vialis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Ipomoea cordatotriloba var. cordatotriloba

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Bastard cabbage in Austin TX
March 17, 2012 - Not sure if this is the forum to address this; but is there any effort out there to do something about the bastard cabbage taking over Austin? Especially on MoPac where you can hardly see the bluebon...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow in clay in North Carolina
March 14, 2008 - I have a small fenced back yard, predominately hard red clay, that is a major focal point. I am designing my own garden/yard area (to cut cost) and have a list of plants that will grow in this soil w...
view the full question and answer

What are the Native Dianthus?
October 03, 2015 - What species of Dianthus is native to North America?
view the full question and answer

Need plants for a garden pathway in Austin, TX.
February 28, 2015 - Hello! I am looking for a low-growing native plant or plants that I can use instead of grass; I have a section of the garden that gets full to part sun that will have a pathway of stones. I'd like ...
view the full question and answer

Plants resistant to white-tailed deer from Austin
April 01, 2013 - Could you tell me whether American Beautyberry and Blackfoot Daisy are usually eaten by our Austin white-tailed deer, or not? I get different answers in different publications. It would be great to ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center