Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Tuesday - May 12, 2009

From: Mattituck, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Ground cover for shaded sandy soil in Long Island, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live on the north fork of Long Island (Zone 7) I would like to find a grass or low ground cover that will grow in shaded sandy soil. The yard has quite a few trees. It also has to stand up to moderate foot traffic.

ANSWER:

The best we can do is go looking in our Native Plant Database for low growing plants native to New York that will tolerate shade. In terms of foot traffic, we would suggest paths or walkways with a layer of shredded hardwood mulch under your trees. It has to be replaced from time to time, but helps keep the ground and tree roots warm (or cool), holds in moisture, and can be walked on freely. As it decomposes, it continues to improve the texture of the soil beneath it, and is attractive.

We found several low-growing, blooming perennial plants, some of them evergreen. We also thought you might be interested in some native grasses, not very tall, that will do well in a shady condition, hold their place year-round, and are easy to care for. Again, they can't be walked on, but might serve as a border.

 

Blooming ground covers for Long Island

Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina springbeauty) - 4 to 12 inch stems, blooms white, pink April to June, part shade, moist soil

Maianthemum stellatum (starry false lily of the valley) - 8 to 10 inch stems, blooms white May and June, part shade or shade, dry soil

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) - 2 inches tall, creeping evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple May to October

Phlox subulata (moss phlox) - less than 2 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple March to June, high water use, sun or part shade

Viola pedata (birdfoot violet) - 4 to 10 inches tall, blooms blue, purple March to June, dry soil, part shade or shade

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - 2 to 3 ft. stems, medium water use, sun or part shade

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) - 10 to 12 inches tall, medium water use, sun or part shade

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - 18 to 24 inches tall, water use low, sun or part shade


Claytonia caroliniana

Maianthemum stellatum

Mitchella repens

Phlox subulata

Viola pedata

Bouteloua curtipendula

Carex texensis

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Advice for Texas Mountain Laurel in shady, narrow bed.
June 08, 2015 - My house faces N/NE and gets a lot of shade. I would like to plant a Texas Mountain Laurel in my narrow front bed, but what is the best way to amend my clay soil since it prefers rocky soil? What woul...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, drought- and shade-tolerant plant for Pennsylvania
August 14, 2012 - Hello, I need a deer/drought resistant, shade tolerant, rocky soil perennial. I would like it to have some winter appeal. I live outside of Philadelphia, PA. Thank you so much for your time...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade in Texas
September 14, 2008 - I am looking for shade tolerant shrubs to plant near our carport. We live in Plum Grove, near Splendora, Texas. I don't want anything with thorns that will scratch the paint or me while getting i...
view the full question and answer

Flowers or plants for no-sun area in Nova Scotia
March 14, 2009 - What kind of flowers or plants can I plant in my rock garden that gets virtually no sun? I have wasted so much money on plants that were guaranteed to grow.
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

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