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Wednesday - July 06, 2016

From: Edgewood, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Shade Tolerant
Title: Native Perennials for Dry Shade in NM
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


I live in Edgewood, NM at an elevation of about 7,200 ft. It is very dry here and it can get below zero (rarely) in the winter. I have some areas under cedar trees where I have had difficulty getting anything to grow. The soil is acidic due to the falling needles/leaves and the area is mostly shady. Do you have any suggestions for perennial flowers that can live in this environment?


You have described one of the big challenges for gardeners - dry + shade. There are lots of native plants that can tolerate dry soil conditions or shaded sites, but the list is reduced significantly for plants that are happy growing in dry shade. So best wishes with your challenge.

To start, take a look at the Native Plant Database and search for New Mexico, Herb, Perennial, Shade and Dry criteria. This will produce a list of 24 native perennials that tolerate dry shade. There are two additional factors that you requested that the Native Plant Database can't accommodate - hardiness zones and acidic soil. So from the previous list, I have done further research to factor in these additional two requests. It would be best to trial a small area to see how these plants perform and what the flowering ability will be under your conditions. And almost all of the suggestions below will grow and perform better if they get some sun. Best wishes.

The result is the following plants to consider ...

Astragalus crassicarpus (groundplum vetch)

Campanula rotundifolia (bluebell bellflower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf coreopsis)

Geum triflorum (old man's whiskers)

Lupinus sericeus (silky lupine)

Maianthemum stellatum (starry false lily of the valley)

Polygonatum biflorum (smooth solomon's seal)

Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)




From the Image Gallery

Groundplum milkvetch
Astragalus crassicarpus

Bluebell bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Old man's whiskers
Geum triflorum

Silky lupine
Lupinus sericeus

Starry false lily of the valley
Maianthemum stellatum

Smooth solomon's seal
Polygonatum biflorum

Gray goldenrod
Solidago nemoralis

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