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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.

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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.

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Saturday - November 28, 2015

From: Las Vegas, NV
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Lists, Drought Tolerant, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Shade, Heat, Drought and Acidic Soil Tolerant Perennials for Las Vegas?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

What can I grow under my pine trees that is shade and heat (and acidity) tolerant? I live in Las Vegas, NV and would like perennials to plant under my pine trees.

ANSWER:

Shade-, heat-, drought- and acidic soil-tolerant, native perennials for under your pine trees in Las Vegas is a challenging set of criteria but not an impossible challenge!

Looking at the Native Plant Database search criteria on the Lady Bird Wildflower Center website is our first stop. Searching for Nevada, Herb, Perennial, Shade, and Dry will fit most of the criteria and reveals 13 possibilities.

Then, we have to filter these results by those that can tolerate acidic soil and which are not invasive.

One possibility is Geum triflorum (old man's whiskers), although it does prefer alkaline soil so if you do plant this perennial remove the top layer of pine needles from the soil.

This is an attractive, 6-18 in. plant with foot-wide, basal clumps of ferny, blue-green, hairy leaves and reddish-purple, bell-shaped flowers that hang in groups of three. Clumps of feathery, plumed, pink-gray fruits stay on the plant much of the summer. The leaves of prairie smoke turn deep red in fall and are sometimes evergreen.

After fertilization, the bell-like flowers turn upward and plumes begin to grow from the pistils, ready to be caught by the wind or a passing animal and the seed so dispersed.

Prefers thin soil over limestone. Mature plants frequently form dense mats creating an attractive ground cover. In addition to the soil preference listed, prairie smoke is known to occur on rich prairie loams, clay and sand.

The Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition has put out a very extensive Regional Plant List with details about plants that they recommend. There is a section on perennials (Mojave native and non-natives combined) on page 9.

 

From the Image Gallery


Old man's whiskers
Geum triflorum

Old man's whiskers
Geum triflorum

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