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

Wednesday - September 11, 2013

From: Neptune Beach , FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant
Title: Salt-tolerant groundcover for shade with no water supply
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have a home in Neptune Beach (Jacksonville) Florida (NE Florida). We have a large area outside our ground floor master bedroom that is completely covered (there is a large solid deck above it). It has total shade and no watering system. Right now it is just dirt. We would like to be able to make it look more inviting and beautiful. Instead of using pavers or stones, can we use a ground cover and/or plantings? Is that possible? If so, what would you suggest that would thrive? We are also 2 houses from the ocean so the plantings would need to be somewhat salt resistant? Any help would be greatly appreciated to make this area attractive and welcoming. Best Regards, Pam

ANSWER:

That's really a triple whammy—salt tolerant, no moisture and completely shaded!  I could find you lots of beach groundcover (salt tolerant) that grow well in full sun, but plants that thrive in full shade is the hard part!   Here, however, are a few that could work.

There are two evergreen vines that are moderately salt tolerant and will function as groundcovers.

If you would like to put some small shrubs under your deck, Morella cerifera [synonym = Myrica cerifera] (Wax myrtle) is listed by University of Georgia Marine Extension Service CoastScapes as being highly salt tolerant.  There are dwarf cultivars available and they will do well in part shade.

All of the plants above will grow in relatively dry conditions, but they are going to need frequent watering to become established.  You could do this by hand or with water sprinklers attached to hoses.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

Allegheny spurge
Pachysandra procumbens

Western bracken fern
Pteridium aquilinum

Allegheny spurge
Pachysandra procumbens

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

More Groundcovers Questions

Native plants for heavy clay soil in east Austin
May 02, 2007 - I live in East Austin and have very thick clay soil on my property. I also have a lot of shade and partial sun/shade. Can you suggest some native plant varieties that are well-adapted to these condi...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Austin yard
March 08, 2012 - My main goal is to cover my yard with a "grass" or groundcover that can handle the Texas heat, predicted long drought and some dog paw traffic (without going dormant/brown in the winter). I don't n...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover for full sun in Alabama
August 02, 2013 - Mr. Smartyplants, can you suggest a native, evergreen, full-sun groundcover that might thrive in zone 8a? We hope to find a mass planting that would look good beside Heuchera villosa 'autumn bride,...
view the full question and answer

Low maintenance plants for crack in concrete
July 01, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I would like to grow some very low maintenance weeds, mosses and flowers out of a crack in a slab of concrete. Can you recommend any species that would do well in this sort...
view the full question and answer

Source for Dichondra from Hillsboro TX
November 26, 2012 - Where can I get dichondra and info about it?
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