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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.

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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.

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Monday - June 03, 2013

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Trees, Wildflowers
Title: Plants for the Shade of a Pine Tree in Pittsburg
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in Pittsburgh, PA. My neighbor has a huge pine tree. Last year everything I planted on that side near the tree died. That part of the yard only gets morning sun, as the tree overshadows it. What can I plant on that side that will survive being near the tree? I love lots of color.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – Pennsylvania, Habit – herb, Duration – all durations, and Light Requirement – part shade and shade. This will give you a very large list of potential plants. You will have to narrow down this search further by indicating search criteria specifics for your soil moisture (is it dry under the pine tree?), lifespan (if you just want perennials), blooming time, height, and bloom color.

Some potential plants to consider include:
Geranium carolinianum (Carolina geranium)
Geranium maculatum (spotted geranium)
Helianthus divaricatus (woodland sunflower)
Helianthus strumosus (paleleaf woodland sunflower)
Lysimachia ciliata (fringed loosestrife)
Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)
Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon)
Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)
Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan)
Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

 

From the Image Gallery


Carolina geranium
Geranium carolinianum

Spotted geranium
Geranium maculatum

Woodland sunflower
Helianthus divaricatus

Paleleaf woodland sunflower
Helianthus strumosus

Fringed loosestrife
Lysimachia ciliata

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Common evening-primrose
Oenothera biennis

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

Wild blue phlox
Phlox divaricata

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Gray goldenrod
Solidago nemoralis

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