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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - August 09, 2012

From: Kenmore, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant
Title: Low maintenance, shade tolerant groundcover for Pacific Northwest
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What's a good low maintenance, shade tolerant ground cover for the Pacific Northwest? It needs to have good erosion control, too.

ANSWER:

There are several excellent sources to help you choose your plants.  Your county, King County, has a Native Plant Guide with plant lists and How-to articles.  The Washington Native Plant Society has a page, Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects, with plant list categories which includes a list for Groundcovers:  Evergreen, Deciduous.  Here are suggestions from these sources for shade tolerant groundcovers with additional information from our Native Plant Database:

Linnaea borealis (Twinflower) is evergreen and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Mahonia nervosa (Cascade barberry) is evergreen and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Achlys triphylla (Sweet after death or Vanilla leaf) and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger) and information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Cornus unalaschkensis (Bunchberry) although not evergreen, it is perennial with rhizomes that will aid in erosion control.  Here is information from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Polystichum munitum (Western swordfern) is evergreen and grows to 3 feet but could function in a groundcover area.  Here is information from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide and from Washington Native Plant Society.

You can find more possibilities in Native plants for deep shade on the King County Northwest Native Plant Guide page.

Washington State University Extension's Gardening in Western Washington has links to publications, fact sheets and websites that you might find helpful.

 

From the Image Gallery


Twinflower
Linnaea borealis

Sweet after death
Achlys triphylla

Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Western swordfern
Polystichum munitum

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