Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Friday - February 01, 2008

From: New City, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Suggestion for plants to replace grass in semi-shade in NY
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have an area that is in semi-shade but gets about 4-5 hours of sunlight in the summer. Instead of grass I would like to perhaps use wild flowers or even prairie type grasses. Any suggestions??

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants can recommend several ornamental prairie-type grasses that should do well in your partial shade. These can grow to 3 feet tall or more.

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

You might also consider one of the sedges. The following sedges are found in New York.

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Another possibility is to use ferns.

Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Finally, here are some flowering plants that should do well in the area.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Geranium maculatum (spotted geranium)

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)

Tiarella cordifolia (heartleaf foamflower)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

You can also find a list of New York Recommended plants on our web page for more possibilities.


Andropogon virginicus

Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Schizachyrium scoparium

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Carex texensis

Dryopteris marginalis

Polystichum acrostichoides

Osmunda cinnamomea

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Geranium maculatum

Mitchella repens

Tiarella cordifolia

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Rudbeckia hirta

Phlox divaricata

Aquilegia canadensis

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Deer resistant plants for area under grand fir (Abies grandis) in Idaho
July 08, 2010 - What can I plant on a slope under Grand Fir trees in North Idaho, zone 4 - anything deer resistant?
view the full question and answer

Sedges or grasses for sun/shade in Georgetown, TX
March 24, 2008 - I have an area that is part shaded (under oak trees) and part in the sun. I would like cedar sedge in the shaded areas (some is already growing there)but I can not find where to buy it. Do you know w...
view the full question and answer

Will Texas kidneywood grow in dappled shade?
December 09, 2008 - Will Texas Kidneywood be successful as an understory plant in dappled shade? There is a location near the house, under a small grove of established live oaks and cedar elms, that needs an airy screen...
view the full question and answer

Grapeland, TX is NOT Grapevine, TX
July 25, 2013 - I submitted a question and today received my answer. I do thank you for this valuable service. However, I stated that I lived in East Texas in GRAPELAND, Tx. Nan Hampton answered me and said that a...
view the full question and answer

Container plant for shade in Austin
August 07, 2010 - I am very new to gardening (have already killed two plants on my front entryway), and I looking for a couple recommendations for for a potted plant that I can place on my entryway porch. It is shaded...
view the full question and answer

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