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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.

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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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Sunday - February 21, 2016

From: Cathedral City, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Laws, Groundcovers, Vines
Title: Flowering Shade Plant for California
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a house north facing that has a "flower bed" in front that unfortunately is shaded 100% of the time. There are roses in the bed currently (they came with the house) but they do poorly. We are looking to put something in that might be a bit more tolerant of the shading conditions and produce some flowers to have a more inviting home to enter. I was thinking star jasmine, would that work well?

ANSWER:

Star jasmine (also called confederate jasmine or Chinese star jasmine) is not a native North American plant so it is not in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database. It is scientifically called Trachelospermum jasminoides and according to wikipedia is a woody evergreen vine growing to about 10 feet high. It will flower in full sun, partial shade, or total shade, and requires well-drained soil (if constantly kept damp it may succumb to fungal infection), moderate water, moderate fertilizer, and a climbing structure (whether a trellis or another plant is secondary). It is widely planted in California and also particularly in the Southeastern United States, where its hardiness, confined to USDA Zones 8-10.

I have seen this plant used successfully as a groundcover in the Austin, Texas area and just occasionally trimmed to keep it neat and dense.

If you would like to try a native plant for your shady front garden, False lily of the valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) is an aggressive groundcover with small clusters of white flowers in early summer. It is a tough plant that grows well in shady moist locations.

Also Sweet After Death (Achlys triphyla) is a spreading groundcover that has white flower clusters in early summer on a narrow spike with large leaves. It also likes moist shade sites.

 

From the Image Gallery


False lily of the valley
Maianthemum dilatatum

Sweet after death
Achlys triphylla

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