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
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 Shade Tolerant Questions

Need help with stabilizing a partial shaded slope in Prince George's County, MD.
September 08, 2009 - I have a partial shade sloped area about 40 ft. x 100ft; that is at the top of a natural drainage. Slope is maybe 10%. There is a thin layer of topsoil on top of a heavier clay layer (it was pasture...
view the full question and answer

Grass for dense shade in Simpsonville SC
May 12, 2010 - We live in Simpsonville, SC. Our back yard leads back into very dense woods. It is extremely shady, virtually no direct sun for any length of time. We have a hard time growing grass here. What type of...
view the full question and answer

Necessary sun exposure for Eves Necklace
November 12, 2008 - How little sun can the tree Eve's Necklace receive and still be happy and healthy? I have an intended spot that gets about 3, maybe 4 hours, some of that will be hot afternoon sun in the summer. Th...
view the full question and answer

Tolerance of plants in area of Amarillo TX
March 24, 2013 - I want to know tolerance in the Amarillo area for Diospyros texana, Berberis trifoliata, and Capsicum annuum where it gets colder, is dry, and intensely hot in summer.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to control erosion in Montgomery County, Texas
February 24, 2014 - I am looking for some kind of ground cover to control erosion on a north facing slope in Montgomery County, Texas. The area gets very little direct sunlight. I need something that will establish quick...
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