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

Tuesday - April 09, 2013

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Deer Resistant, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plant for deep shade in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi! I am landscaping our house and trying to use only plants that provide seasonal benefit to bees, butterflies, birds etc. not the deer though. My question is that I have a fairly steep slope of about 2000 square feet where garlic mustard and other undesired plants are growing in shade/dense shade. I need a plant(s) that can establish and spread aggressively in this spot and hopefully benefits the wildlife. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Grasses and sedges are rarely eaten by deer, but their seeds are eaten by birds and other wildlife.  Unfortunately, many grasses don't grow well in the shade; however, below are some that will grow in the shade.  Grasses and sedges are your best bet to compete with the garlic mustard.  The herbaceous plants can be interspersed with the grasses to add color and variety for the birds and butterflies.  All the herbaceous plants listed below are found in the Deer Resistant Species list, will grow in the shade and are native to Pennsylvania.   If you would like to see other possibilites for herbaceous plants for Pennsylvania, you can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option on the Deer Resistant Species list and choose "Pennsylvania" from Select State or Province, "Herb" from General Appearance and "Shade" from Light Requirement.

Grasses and Sedges

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (Nimblewill)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge) is evergreen.

Carex plantaginea (Plantainleaf sedge) is evergreen.

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) is evergreen.

Herbaceous Plants

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Eutrochium purpureum (Purple joepyeweed)

Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin)

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Verbesina virginica (Frostweed)

Even though the plants listed above will compete with garlic mustard (and other unwanted plants), you are going to have to be aggressive in getting rid of it.  Here is a link to an article about Alliaria petiolata (Garlic mustard) from the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group with a section on how to manage it.

 

From the Image Gallery


Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Nimblewill
Muhlenbergia schreberi

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Plantainleaf sedge
Carex plantaginea

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Purple joepyeweed
Eutrochium purpureum

Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Frostweed
Verbesina virginica

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native grasses for chain link fenceline in Nash, TX
April 29, 2009 - I have chain link fence all the way around my yard and I am getting tired of having to weed eat along the fence line. I am looking for some type of year round decorative plant or grass (preferably on...
view the full question and answer

Sheet mulching before planting Habiturf from Grand Prairie, TX
March 03, 2014 - Have you tried sheet mulching as a bed prep and to kill bermuda grass before planting habituff?
view the full question and answer

Source for Habiturf sod in Central Texas
October 02, 2015 - Do you know any source for Habiturf sod in Central Texas? I contacted Blade Runner Farms and they replied that their Habiturf project was discontinued.
view the full question and answer

Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
February 07, 2014 - We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil...
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady sand in Florida
March 31, 2013 - 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...
view the full question and answer

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