Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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

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 Shade Tolerant Questions

Will Thunder Turf do well in shade from Iola TX
June 23, 2010 - Will the Thunder Turf do well in shady areas or is there a better blend of native grasses that would thrive better?
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control with perennials for a shady Dallas bank
July 25, 2013 - Thank you for your help with turf or perennials on a shaded bank, 4000 sq ft, for the Dallas area that has good roots, grows in semi shade to shade, is on a steep bank so cannot mow, and flowers the l...
view the full question and answer

Is straggler daisy deer resistant from Austin
October 08, 2012 - Is straggler daisy (horseherb) deer resistant? We have lots of deer in our NW Hills, Austin neighborhood, and a lot of shade where not much will grow. Is that plant a good candidate for ground cover...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover plants for a shady North Carolina yard
March 20, 2016 - Ground cover erosion control for heavily shaded area in Cary, North Carolina. Current landscapers use strong blowers for leaf control. This blows away any seeds, loose soil and mulch. Tree roots ar...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shady courtyard classroom garden in Weatherford, TX
March 27, 2007 - I am wanting to create an outdoor classroom area in the courtyard of my school. The courtyard is enclosed by all four sides and the building is two stories high. It does not receive much sunlight. Mos...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.