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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - July 08, 2013

From: Charlottesville, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant
Title: Low-growing plants for a slope in the shade
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, I'm looking for native plants to put in the shade (within the drip-line) of a well-established American Holly. The area gets deep shade; it is also on a very gentle north-exposure slope. We have dry clay soil in this area. I would like a mix of species that would thrive with little care and eventually spread to cover the ground--but they don't have to be low-growing. Up to 3 feet tall would be fine. Many thanks for your help!

ANSWER:

The following plants will grow in the shade and are all less than 3 feet tall or can be maintained at that height by pruning.  All should do well in clay soil.   I found these plants by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database.  I chose "Virginia" from the Select State or Province slot, "Shade" from Light Requirement and "0-1 ft.", "1-3 ft." and"3-6 ft." from size characteristics.   You can do the same search to see more possibilities for plants.   Be sure the read the entries under GROWING CONDITIONS on each species' page, especially the Soil Description, to be sure the growing conditions meet your site's characteristics.

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis) is perennial with evergreen foliage and blooms April, May and June.

Phlox divaricata (Wild blue phlox) is perennial with evergreen foliage and blooms March, April and May.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry) may grow a little taller than you like, but it can be pruned to keep it low.  It does well in clay and full shade.  It has purple berries that persist into winter.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden and Texas Gardening Info

Aralia nudicaulis (Wild sarsaparilla)  Here is more information from Plants for a Future.

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) is low-growing, grass-like and semi-evergreen.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden and Illinois Wildflowers.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) grows very well in shade and part shade and clay soil.  The dried seeds are attractive into the winter and can be removed in the spring when the new green leaves begin to form.  Here's more information from Nadia's Backyard.

Geum canadense (White avens) with evergreen foliage and blossoms in April, May and June.  Here's more  information from Plants for a Future.

Packera obovata (Golden groundsel) has evergreen foliage and blooms well in the shade.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

 

From the Image Gallery


New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Wild blue phlox
Phlox divaricata

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Wild sarsaparilla
Aralia nudicaulis

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

White avens
Geum canadense

Golden groundsel
Packera obovata

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcover for Laredo Texas
July 04, 2011 - I am in Laredo, TX and no longer want to waste water on grass. I would like to pull it all out and plant native, drought resistant ground cover - low growing, between 6-12 inches, sun and partial sha...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Thornton CO
June 04, 2012 - I want to order ground cover because I don't want to mess with grass any more. I live in Colorado, north of Denver. The soil has a lot of clay. I tried clover and that did not do well. My yard is par...
view the full question and answer

Native, full-sun, 4-in. evergreen grasses for Leander TX
November 07, 2011 - Help! I need a native Texas evergreen sedge/grass/ground cover for full-sun/hot/dry area between sidewalk and street. The plants will need to be kept about 4" high, if growth is higher it must be mow...
view the full question and answer

Source for silver ponyfoot from Temple TX
March 19, 2013 - Where can I purchase dichondra argentea -- I live in Bell Co. but am willing to come to Austin if need be. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Removal of bramble under live oaks and replacing with groundcover
September 26, 2007 - We have several large live oaks on the front of our 12 acre property in Hockley, Texas. Under and around each oak is an extensive amount of bramble which we would like to remove so that we can enjoy ...
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