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

Wednesday - September 17, 2014

From: Jacksonville, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Groundcovers, Ferns
Title: Groundcover for shade in Duval County, Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What low growing ground cover would be good for a lake edge area. This area is shaded with overlying woodland type trees. I planted some autumn ferns but they have getting overrun with poison ivy. I am looking for something that is natural (Duval County) that could out compete that and stay relatively low to the ground.

ANSWER:

You may be more than just a little optimistic in thinking that there is a plant that is going to out-compete Toxicodendron radicans (Eastern poison ivy).  You should probably deal with it to get it under control.  Here are links to two previous question with answers about controlling poison ivy—one from Texas and a follow-up question from North Carolina.

I think ferns are your best bet for a groundcover under the shade of your trees.  Here are a few possibilities that grow in Duval County:

Pteridium aquilinum (Western bracken fern) is considered very aggressive and might help in struggle against poison ivy.  See  information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Woodwardia virginica (Virginia chainfern) is also labeled as aggressive.  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston swordfern) is evergreen and spreads by rhizomes.  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern)  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society

Dryopteris ludoviciana (Southern woodfern)  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society

Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern)  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society

You can find more suggestions for ferns and for other plants by using the Florida Native Plant Society's "Native Plants for Your Area" page and choosing "Duval" from the county list and then using the Refine Your Criteria option for choosing the Light Range, Water Needs and Soil types.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Western bracken fern
Pteridium aquilinum

Virginia chainfern
Woodwardia virginica

Boston swordfern
Nephrolepis exaltata

Common lady fern
Athyrium filix-femina

Southern woodfern
Dryopteris ludoviciana

Wood fern
Thelypteris kunthii

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Safety of Baccharis halimifolia (groundsel tree) for parrots
April 25, 2007 - Do you have any information on the possible toxicity of Baccharis halimifolia (Groundsel tree, sea myrtle) most especially the trunks/branches? We have it all over our property, and I'm curious if it...
view the full question and answer

Are Carolina jessamine flowers toxic to bees?
March 08, 2016 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, My husband and I recently planted 15 yellow Carolina Jessamine bushes along our back fence. Our hope is that it will vine up into the fence and give us privacy. I went online...
view the full question and answer

Need to find a place to buy Western Soapberry in Paris, TX.
May 05, 2012 - Where is the closest place to purchase a Western Soapberry tree?
view the full question and answer

Dealing with poison ivy
April 22, 2008 - Suggestions for eradicating Poison Ivy? I have just a small growth in my backyard. Thanks -
view the full question and answer

Is arborvitate (Thuja sp.) safe for horses
May 16, 2010 - Is arborvitae poisonous to horses? I want to plant it along the horse pasture. If it is poisonous, what are similar plants that are not poisonous to horses?
view the full question and answer

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