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

Sunday - August 11, 2013

From: Sag Harbor, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Salt tolerant plants for shade on tidal inlet in NY
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Are there any salt water tolerant grasses or forbs with deep roots that grow in shade? I live on a tidal inlet/canal on Long Island NY. The southern bank has cedars and oaks but the soil is eroding concavely, exposing the tree roots. I may have to add soil tubes but don't know what plants would grow in the shade to hold them in place. The tidal range is 3 feet.

ANSWER:

For most grasses, shade tends to be a problem.   There are several grasses that will do well with salt tolerance, but not with shade tolerance [e.g., Distichlis spicata (Saltgrass)].  However, I have compiled a list of several grasses, forbs and small shrubs that are reported to be salt tolerant and will grow in partial shade using the following sources:

GRASS/GRASS-LIKE:

Spartina patens (Marsh-hay cord grass)  Here is more information from Plant Fact Sheet from USDA NRCS.

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) will grow in part shade.   Here is a Plant Fact Sheet from USDA NRCS.

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) will grow in part shade and is moderately salt tolerant.

FORBS:

Limonium carolinianum (Carolina sealavender) grows in part shade.  Here are more photos and information from Go Botany.

Symphyotrichum tenuifolium (Perennial saltmarsh aster) will grow in part shade.  Here are photos and more information from Connecticut Wildflowers.

SHRUBS:

Baccharis halimifolia (Groundseltree) grows in part shade from 5 to 12 feet.  Here is more information from North Carolina State University.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) is evergreen and is low-growing in sun or part shade.  Here is more information from University of Connecticut-Horticulture.

Morella pensylvanica [synonym=Myrica pensylvanica] (Northern bayberry) is a shrub of 3 to 12 feet that grows in part shade.  Here is more information from the University of Florida.

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) grows in part shade to 1 to 3 feet high.

I don't know exactly how much shade you have, but I think your main problem is finding plants that will grow in full shade that are also salt tolerant.  Additionally, the tidal range of 3 feet may be a serious problem with some of these plants.  The Relative Salt Tolerance of Coastal Species list may help you determine exactly which species will do best.   You can check the light requirements for various plants on any of the lists by searching (using the scientific name) in our Native Plant Database.

Best of luck!

 

From the Image Gallery


Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Carolina sealavender
Limonium carolinianum

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Groundseltree
Baccharis halimifolia

Northern bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

Carolina rose
Rosa carolina

More Erosion Control Questions

Stabilizing a sand bank in VT
August 13, 2011 - We have a summer cottage in Burlington, Vt. and need to stabilize a mound of sand. The "bank" we are trying to stabilize has partial sun and faces south. It measures approx 4' high and is 30' long...
view the full question and answer

Shady Perennial Groundcover Suggestions for Indiana
April 21, 2013 - Could you please recommend perennial groundcovers for Indiana that are low and leafy, self-spreading, non-invasive, deer resistant, and moisture tolerant; and that are good for erosion control on a sh...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control after loss of large trees
July 19, 2007 - Our steep 40' river bank (NY near eastern shore of Lake Ontario - zone 4) has recently lost two 50' oaks, leaving enormous holes in the bank itself where they tore out. What should we do immediately...
view the full question and answer

Construction problems on site in Mansfield OH
April 28, 2012 - Last year we had a rectangular above ground pool put in the person who "leveled" for use did a terrible job and basically dug a huge hole for us to put our pool in. The back side of the pool is abou...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for controlling erosion in Fairmont WV
August 30, 2010 - I'm interested in finding native plants, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a fairly steep slope. The area is partly shaded.
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