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
3 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 Planting Questions

Transplanting trumpet creeper in Prairie City, IA
August 22, 2011 - I have a Trumpet Creeper that I would like to transplant. How do you do that?
view the full question and answer

Vine Choices Scarce in Beaverton Oregon
June 08, 2012 - Hi, I am looking for a hearty vine that we could use to cling to and cover a cement wall that is about 8 feet tall and 30 feet long. It is on the south side of our house but never gets direct sunli...
view the full question and answer

Turf grass for a sandy site in central Texas
February 16, 2015 - I want to plant grass over an old sand volleyball court in our back yard in Bastrop, Texas. What is the best way to go? Adding top soil and buffalo grass seed or try St. Augustine?
view the full question and answer

Need plants for a garden pathway in Austin, TX.
February 28, 2015 - Hello! I am looking for a low-growing native plant or plants that I can use instead of grass; I have a section of the garden that gets full to part sun that will have a pathway of stones. I'd like ...
view the full question and answer

Need fast growing shade tree in San Diego County, CA
June 17, 2015 - I am looking for a fast growing tree that provides great shade. The reason being, is I need shade for three horseshoe pits and the sooner i get shade, the better. I live in San Diego county, zone 9b. ...
view the full question and answer

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