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

Privacy screen from Simpsonville SC
May 04, 2013 - My neighbor cut down his part of our shared woods so now we see his whole "outside patio area". What kinds of fast growing shade loving trees and shrubs can we plant on our property line that will c...
view the full question and answer

Small evergreen shrubs for part shade in Texas
January 31, 2015 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I'm, for some reason, at odds with myself about a shrub decision. I have need about 8 ft of hedge-like evergreen shrub(s) that I can maintain around 4ft to go under a window. It...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Privacy Screen for Maryland
November 19, 2012 - I am looking for an evergreen that will suffice to be planted as a privacy screen between my property and my neighbors. Looking to plant a row at the property line. The lot is shaded most of the d...
view the full question and answer

Shaded Groundcover for Florida
June 15, 2011 - Looking for ground cover for shade. Area is between two houses. Something with minimal amount of work and care.
view the full question and answer

Trees for shade in Austin
May 20, 2012 - I live in Austin and I am looking for a good tree to plant under a large live oak I have in my backyard. Something slow-growing of course and, the garden only gets late day sun for about an hour. Filt...
view the full question and answer

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