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 - September 21, 2010

From: Rochester, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Want salt, shade, drought tolerant plant for Rochester, New York
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

I am looking for a ground cover plant for western NY to grow on a strip alongside a road that gets very little sun in summer (lots of tree branches shading it). It gets a lot of road salt in winter along with some snow piled on top. If it were to be drought resistant, that would be even better. We have tried to grow grass on this piece of land, but with no luck (too shaded) Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

I compared the list of salt tolerant plants to the list of shade plants prepared by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.  I also checked for plants that will grow in part shade, are salt tolerant and drought resistant.

The only plants that were fully shade tolerant and salt tolerant  and might make it with your water conditions were the following shrubs.  I think that they will be too large for your needs but am including them just in case.  If you have a ditch along the road,  I would plant them on the sides of the ditch to get their roots closer to the water table.  Or you could build little hollows, like small rain gardens and plant them at the bottom. Spicebush seemed to need the least water.  If you are planting in the zone of lots of tree roots, the trees will be competing for water, making this area drier for the plants.

Photinia pyrifolia (Syn = Aronia arbutifolia)– Red chokeberry  is a six to twelve foot shrub with four-season interest.

Lindera benzoin– Spicebush grows six to 12 feet and needs medium water.  It will also grow in dry soils.

However if you can prune up the trees, or thin them, so the site gets 3-6 hours of sun a day, you could plant Schizachyrium scoparium– Little bluestem.  A large planting of this will give dramatic fall color and also be beneficial to wildlife. AND it's drought resistant. So this sounds like the ideal plant for you.

The rest of the salt-tolerant plants are all sun loving and need six or more hours of sun a day.  This is because they developed along open, sunny beaches or in salt marshes.


Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native shade plants around fountain in California
March 18, 2009 - Hi, we just put a fountain in our front yard. It is in a mostly shady area. I need to know what plants would go best around the fountain and survive in the shade.
view the full question and answer

Grasses for shady areas
November 24, 2013 - I would like to know which grasses would grow in mostly shady part of the house.
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for large pot in light shade in Austin
March 30, 2007 - For an Austin yard, please suggest a shrub or a mixture of plants for a 15 gallon clay pot. The area has dappled light and deer. I would prefer a deciduous plant if possible.
view the full question and answer

Should Solanum eleagnifolium, silverleaf nightshade, be removed from yard
October 01, 2009 - I live in Upstate NY. I'm quite sure, after checking many sites/pictures, that I have a couple specimens of Silver Leaf Night Shade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) growing in the "wild" portion of my side...
view the full question and answer

Shade tree with no roots to interfere with patio in Lake City FL
April 24, 2011 - I have a 4x4 area surrounded by cement patio but would like a tree for shade that does not have roots that will mess up the slab.
view the full question and answer

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