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?

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
2 ratings

Saturday - September 28, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Shade tolerant low shrub for Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please suggest a shade loving shrub that doesn't get more than 3' tall for a foundation planting along a front porch in Houston, TX. I prefer native, drought resistant if possible. No nursery person has any idea what to plant.

ANSWER:

We will go to our Native Plant Database, scroll down that page to the Combination Search, specify Texas as the state, "shrub" as the Habit, and both "part shade" (two to six hours a day of sun) and "shade" under Light Requirements, and 1-3 ft. under Height. When we clicked on Submit Search we got a list of 28 species of shrub native to Texas, but on checking the USDA Native Plant Database for counties in which those shrubs grew natively, there were only three that grow even close to Harris County. They are:

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)

Prunus gracilis (Oklahoma plum)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

We were wondering if perhaps the low height may be the limiting factor in your request; most shrubs tend to grow more in the 3 to 6 ft. range. So, we would like to suggest a possible alternatve - there are a few really attractive native grasses that can tolerate that much shade and remain below 3 ft. tall. They are:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Eragrostis intermedia (Plains lovegrass)

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass)

Please follow each plant link to our webpage to learn growing conditions, projected height, amount of shade tolerated, etc.

We will also go slightly off the recommendations in the Native Plant Database. Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) definitely grows in Harriss County, is evergreen and tolerates part shade. It is, however, ordinarily much taller than 3 ft. There are dwarf versions of the yaupon which you should be able to find in local nurseries. Here is an article from the South Florida Plant Guide on Schillings Dwarf Holly. The picture of Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) from our Image Gallery is not a dwarf but has the same growing conditions and light requirements.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Oklahoma plum
Prunus gracilis

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Plains lovegrass
Eragrostis intermedia

Texas bluegrass
Poa arachnifera

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Large shrub for screen in shade
June 11, 2008 - I am trying to find some large shrubs that will thrive in shade in the north Texas climate. This area will receive very little light during the day but need to grow quite large to hide a fence and cr...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for large pot in light shade in Austin
March 30, 2007 - For an Austin yard, please suggest a shrub or a mixture of plants for a 15 gallon clay pot. The area has dappled light and deer. I would prefer a deciduous plant if possible.
view the full question and answer

Saving or transplanting stand of white trillium that has lost shade
May 29, 2006 - We have a generous stand of white trillium that has been under the shade of a white oak for many years. Now the 100+ year old oak has died and the trilliums are in the sun. Are we in danger of losin...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for dry shade in North Central Texas
March 09, 2008 - I live in North Central Texas and have an area that is 80% shade and a dry soil condition. What native grasses would be suitable for this location?
view the full question and answer

Grass for sunny or shady slope in Birmingham AL
June 16, 2011 - What kind of grass grows well in the shade or sun on a sloping landscape?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center