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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - March 06, 2010

From: Burkburnett, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Small shrub for shady area
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I would like to find a shrub to plant on the north, northeast side of my house, but it will be in mostly shade. It needs to get between 21/2' to 4' tall. Do you have any suggestions please?


These plants will all grow in part shade (2 to 6 hours sun per day) and some will grow in shade (less than 2 hours sun per day).

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Wright's desert honeysuckle) can be pruned to the size you desire.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) can be pruned each winter to keep in your size range.

Chromolaena odorata (Jack in the bush) will die back to roots in hard winter.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) will grow in shade, part shade and sun.  There are dwarf varieties and it can be trimmed into a shrub of the desired size.  Also, it is evergreen.

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) is evergreen and but it does have sharp spines on the end of its leaves.

Salvia regla (mountain sage) grows in shade and part shade and recommended to be pruned to encourage busy growth.

Glossopetalon planitierum (plains greasebush) grows in part shade and is low-growing.

Rhus microphylla (littleleaf sumac) grows in part shade, can be pruned and is fast-growing.

Zinnia grandiflora (Rocky Mountain zinnia) is very low-growing (6-8 inches) in part shade.

Here are some photos of the above from our Image Gallery:

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Callicarpa americana

Chromolaena odorata

Ilex vomitoria

Mahonia trifoliolata

Salvia regla

Glossopetalon planitierum

Rhus microphylla

Zinnia grandiflora



More Shade Tolerant Questions

Mulching in deep shade in Round Rock TX
June 22, 2010 - Central Texas: Problem is deep shade and high temps. I noted your advice about danger to the tree when planting beneath shade trees, but wonder if there is a substance - perhaps pine needles - that co...
view the full question and answer

What plant grows in extremely hot Texas weather in the shade in Dallas Texas?
July 30, 2009 - What plant grows in extremely hot Texas weather in the shade?
view the full question and answer

Shrub or small tree for dappled shade in San Antonio
April 18, 2010 - I'm looking for an attractive bush or small tree that will grow in dry, dappled shade. I'd prefer one that does not form fruit-I don't want the neighborhood skunks visiting my yard.(My dog has been...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a shady hillside in WI
June 07, 2011 - I would like to know what kind of plants I could plant on a northern exposure hillside to stop erosion. At the bottom of the hill is a lake. Also would putting rocks from the area as natural retaining...
view the full question and answer

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

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