En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Plant for deep shade in Pennsylvania

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

Deer resistant plants for area under grand fir (Abies grandis) in Idaho
July 08, 2010 - What can I plant on a slope under Grand Fir trees in North Idaho, zone 4 - anything deer resistant?
view the full question and answer

Shade-loving native plants for South Carolina
January 08, 2008 - I am looking to incorporate a native plants section in my backyard. Shade seems to be a limiting factor in some parts, especially where I would look to create a natural hedge bordering my neighbor's...
view the full question and answer

Restoring the woods in Central Austin.
May 08, 2012 - I live in Austin, south central between Red Bud trail close to the low water bridge and Bee Caves road. My question: I want to make the wooded sections of my yard attractive. They have filtered sun...
view the full question and answer

Native shade-loving container plant for Austin
May 02, 2009 - What is a good plant that works well in a container, is shade-loving and produces some blooms?
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for shady site in Tyler TX
February 24, 2009 - I live in Tyler Texas and have a lot of shade and sandy soil. No grass will grow and I was wondering if I should look at ground cover instead? If so, what grows in shade and sand? I have tried sever...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center