En Español

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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - July 23, 2013

From: Grapeland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for shaded area in East Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in East Texas and have an area that is shaded most of the day - it only gets sun in the middle of the day but it is direct. What would be best? I would prefer something that won't freeze, but it is a fairly well protected area. Annuals or small shrubs would fit here. There is a well established passion vine on the fence close by.


On our Recommended Species page you will find a map of the United States with the states outlined so that you click on them to find lists of recommended native plants that are commercially available for landscaping in each state.  Although you consider yourself in East Texas, our map puts your county (Tarrant) in North Central Texas.  If you click on that area (North Central Texas) you will get a list of plants that are commercially available for landscaping for your area.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to choose the criteria you want.   For instance, under Light Requirement, choose "Shade–2 hrs or less" and under General Appearance you could choose "Herb", "Subshrub" or "Shrub".  Here are some possibilities that I found doing this search:

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) is a perennial herb.

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) is a perennial herb.

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan) is an annual herb.

Salvia regla (Mountain sage) is a small deciduous shrub.

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is an evergreen shrub/small tree.  There are dwarf varieties and it can be pruned to size.

 Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) is a deciduous shrub.  There are dwarf varieties of this shrub, too.

If your site qualifies as partial shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day), there are many more choices, such as:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) is a perennial herb.

Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower) is a perennial herb.

There are also more herbs and shrubs for partial shade.

For each of these species you should read the GROWING CONDITIONS on their species page to see if they agree with the conditions at your site.

You can find nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants in our National Suppliers Directory.



From the Image Gallery

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Mountain sage
Salvia regla

Ilex vomitoria

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Asclepias tuberosa

Blue mistflower
Conoclinium coelestinum

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native plants for part shade in North Carolina
February 07, 2009 - I'm thinking about planting a border in front of my house. It's on the north side, so it's fairly shady. One of the main problems with this is that I don't like many common shade plants, so it's ...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for shade in Burbank, CA
May 13, 2009 - I need a few ideas for a non-deciduous (or nearly non-deciduous)tree that grows fast and will provide shade. Shade need not be total. Chinese Elms come to mind but I'm not sure of the growth rate. ...
view the full question and answer

Small area native plant gardening for an apartment
November 14, 2008 - Mr.Smarty, We live in an apartment and are fortunate to have a small area, 5'x5', and so want color! Here in Houston the winters don't freeze much and the summers are HOT. Luckily, we are in the ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a condo garden in Decatur GA
February 12, 2009 - I recently moved into a condo in Decatur (just outside Atlanta). I am now working on the back yard - just a patio and dirt right now. It is a small space and is shaded much of the day but does get s...
view the full question and answer

Carex as a shady turf alternative in Austin
November 10, 2009 - I just read your answer to Barbara Medford's question about what multi-species native grasses would work to create a shady lawn. While you had some wonderful suggestions you mention a homeowner's as...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center