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

Saturday - April 16, 2011

From: Dover, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Ornamental shade grasses for Dover AR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Ornamental shade grasses for sandy soil or silt, part shade, or even vines.

ANSWER:

We are going to direct you to our Native Plant Database, and teach you how to make choices there for yourself, although we will give you some examples. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow natively. This is because a plant native to an area is already accustomed, by millennia of experience, to the climate, rainfall and soils of that area. This is a great conservation move, because artificial fertilizers, supplementary watering and chemicals will be needed in moderation, if at all.

Following the link above, you will get a page with "Combination Search" on it, with which you can select the state where you garden, types of plants, shade and sun conditions, even soil moisture. When you have checked all that are appropriate on the sidebar on the right-hand side of the page, click on "Combination Search" at the bottom of the page, and you will get a list of plants that fit your requirements. If you put in too many conditions, you may get no selections at all, so you will have to compromise and figure out what you can do without or change in your specifications. You can organize the same Search for vines, trees, shrubs, ferns, succulents or ferns.

We will go to the Combination Search, select Arkansas in the drop-down menu, part shade in Light Requirements and whatever else you think applies. You will get a list of 96 grasses native to Arkansas. Follow each plant link on that list to determine what soils that plant prefers, expected size of the plant, whether it is evergreen, bloom time and color, etc. If you don't like these, you should be able to do the same thing and find others you like better. We selected some that we already have some experience with, and checked the USDA Plant Profiles on each to assure that that each could be grown in Pope County, USDA Hardiness Zones 7a to 7b. If you need more local advice, contact the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service for Pope County. Here is a list of the grasses that we thought would do well for you:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) - 4-8 ft, tall, perennial, medium water use, sun (6 hours of sun or more) or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun).

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - 2 to 4 ft, perennial, medium water use, part shade or shade (less than 2 hours of sun daily).

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye or canada wild rye) - 2-4 ft. perennial, medium water use, sun or part shade.

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) - 18 to 24", perennial, sun or part shade.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Andropogon gerardii


Chasmanthium latifolium


Elymus canadensis


Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Container plants for Arlington TX
February 10, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I just moved to Arlington, TX. I am trying to create a container garden on my apartment balcony. What flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit combinations can I put together that wil...
view the full question and answer

Why doesn't my Rusty blackhead bloom?
April 10, 2016 - I have planted Rusty blackhaws the past several years..some bloomed the first year and every year since....and others 3 years old have not bloomed yet... Do all Rusty blackhaws bloom eventually or ...
view the full question and answer

How to stabilize a slope under Red Oaks?
March 19, 2013 - A portion our front "yard" (20x40 feet) is a limestone hillside shaded by 3 large spanish oaks. The small amount of grass holding onto the hillside is now gone from the drought, and the hill has er...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover to prevent erosion in Florida
November 04, 2012 - I live on a hill and put in a new side driveway and now I am seeing erosion along the driveway and can see the bottom of my concrete. Grass won't grow because its all shaded. What would be the best g...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental plants for under live oaks
September 08, 2008 - What ornamental plant will do well under Live Oak trees?
view the full question and answer

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