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Wednesday - July 13, 2016

From: Pleasanton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Shade Tolerant Groundcover for Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in Atascosa county in Pleasanton Texas, I have an abundance of Live Oak and Ash trees shading my property and need a groundcover for my backyard which is nothing but sand and where I have dogs and a major flea problem. Can you please help me find a traffic and animal hardy, shade loving, flea fighting, native that loves sand and can handle 30+ year old oaks?

ANSWER:

Thanks for your tough question. You have a very challenging site for any type of plant - shade, sand, flea fighting, and foot/paw traffic. So to start, take a look at the Native Plant Database on our website (www.wildflower.org) and put in the following search criteria: Texas, Herb & Vine, Perennial, Shade, Dry and 0-1 feet to find a native groundcover.

A couple of plants are potentials so far ...

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) A trailing, evergreen herb with white, fragrant, tubular flowers in pairs. Partridgeberry is a creeping, perennial herb, no taller than 2 in. high. All parts are dainty, including its pairs of small, rounded, evergreen leaves; tiny, trumpet-shaped, pinkish-white flowers; and scarlet berries.

A most attractive woodland creeper with highly ornamental foliage, it can be used as a groundcover under acid-loving shrubs and in terraria in the winter. The common name implies that the scarlet fruits are relished by partridges, and they are consumed by a variety of birds and mammals.

Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) A familiar plant with prostrate stems, which root at the nodes, and flowers and leaves arising from runners on separate stalks. Runners are 6-20 in. Five-parted leaves and five-petaled, yellow flowers

Parthenocissus vitacea (Hiedra creeper) A vine with good fall colour and tolerant of shade and sand.

These plants have some ability to withstand foot traffic but not continuously. So it is adviseable to restrict the areas that the dog can trample - at least until the groundcovers are established.

There are several articles online about plants that repel fleas. Most of the plants listed are herbs - rosemary, sage, mints, lavender, etc. Perhaps these can be planted in a sunnier part of the garden to help fight the fleas.

 

From the Image Gallery


Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Common cinquefoil
Potentilla simplex

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