Contact Us Host an Event 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

Tuesday - July 15, 2014

From: Edmond, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Groundcover for Shady Front Beds in OK
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I need a groundcover for my front beds in Edmond, OK that are moist and in full shade. The groundcover would primarily be around and under a Japanese maple. Low maintenance is preferred.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential shade plants for your front beds is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have put together an extensive database of plants and their characteristics for you to review.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: OK, Habit – herb (for herbaceous), Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Shade, Soil Moisture – Moist, and Size – 0-1 feet.
This search criteria will give you 19 native plants to consider. Not all of them will be good candidates as groundcover plants because their form or growth habit is not appropriate. The ones that will make the best groundcover plants are:


Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger), a low colony-forming perennial to 8 inches in height. Over time will form a dense groundcover in a shaded, moist woodland site.  Propagate in the fall by root division.
Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s breeches), dense masses of finely cut leaves and fragrant, white pantaloon-shaped flowers in the spring. Can spread over a good size area over time. Plant goes dormant in early summer.
Erythronium albidum (White troutlily),maroon spotted leaves make an attractive groundcover. White bell-shaped flowers in spring. Plants multiply rapidly by root offshoots and seed.
Galium triflorum (Fragrant bedstraw), trailing perennial that could reach 4 feet in length. Tiny star-like flowers.
Hydrophyllum virginianum (Eastern waterleaf), woodland perennial, whitish flowers on long stalks in early summer.
Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry), a trailing evergreen perennial with fragrant white blooms. A creeping plant no taller than 2 inches. Highly ornamental foliage. Scarlet fruit consumed by birds and mammals. A good groundcover for under acid-loving shrubs. Phlox divaricata (Wild blue phlox), loose, flat clusters of fragrant, lavender or pink flowers.
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot), white blossoms in spring, spreads rapidly and makes a good groundcover.
Uvularia sessilifolia (Spreading bellwort), 15 inch stalks hold dangling leaves and delicate cream-colored flowers. Roots colonize to form a groundcover.
Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet), light purple blooms in the early spring, colonizes via rhizomes to form a groundcover.

 

From the Image Gallery


Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

White troutlily
Erythronium albidum

Fragrant bedstraw
Galium triflorum

Virginia waterleaf
Hydrophyllum virginianum

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Wild blue phlox
Phlox divaricata

Bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis

Spreading bellwort
Uvularia sessilifolia

Missouri violet
Viola missouriensis

Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Evergreen plant to cover parents' graves in Louisiana
June 30, 2013 - We want to plant ground cover on our parents graves in Plain Dealing Cemetery in north Bossier Parish LA. Soil is red clay/dirt. Want native plant, slow growing, short not tall plant, that might sta...
view the full question and answer

Showy Low Growing Perennial for Michigan
June 03, 2013 - I have been looking for a native perennial that would do well in full sun and moist to dry soil. It would have to be at most 2.5' tall and have showy pink, purple, or red flowers. Is there such a pla...
view the full question and answer

Enough sun from San Marcos TX
February 22, 2013 - I would like to plant both Lantana urticoides and Salvia farinacea in area that only has morning to 1pm sun..Will this amount of sun be enough?
view the full question and answer

Plants that smell like chocolate from Coral Gables FL
July 12, 2012 - I am looking for plants that smell like chocolate. I live in south Florida. We are currently growing and testing Berlandiera lyrata. Do you know of other plants whose flowers smell like chocolate?
view the full question and answer

Straggler Daisy as a Groundcover in Salado, TX
October 30, 2015 - I've identified Straggler Daisy or Horseherb as the plant to cover my 20 x 40 partly shady partly sunny lot. Could you provide me with the best method for starting and growing the plant to ensure it ...
view the full question and answer

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