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?


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

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

Ground cover under Spruces from West Chester PA
December 06, 2012 - Trying to get a native groundcover (or any grass/wildflower/fern) planting established under a small stand of spruces. Established stand (30+ years old), so lots of needles on ground. Just about tot...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Native violets under maples from Gettysburg PA
July 06, 2012 - Just for your info (no need to post or reply), I saw an old post of a question of something to grow under maples. In central PA, native violets grow very well under several species of maples in lawns...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shaded area under pecan trees
May 11, 2011 - The east side of our Houston home has a 15 foot strip overhung with pecan trees. The shade by the start of summer is so dense that grass dies pretty quickly. I'd like to keep enough grass for the k...
view the full question and answer

Plants for northern exposure in Wichita, KS
March 17, 2009 - What are good plants for the north side of the house with acidic soil in Zone 6, Wichita, KS?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center