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
2 ratings

Friday - August 10, 2012

From: Greeley, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant
Title: Groundcovers for area under blue spruce in Colorado
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a 40 ft blue spruce limbed up 6 ft in my yard on the west in Greeley, CO (50 mi N Denver, zone 4 or 5). It gets some sun underneath in the later afternoon and evening. Can you suggest 4 to 5 ground covers that might do well under the tree? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Here are suggestions for groundcovers for shade/part shade that should work well under your blue spruce.  All the species are known to occur in Weld County or in adjacent counties in Colorado. 

Mahonia repens (Creeping barberry) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Montana Plant-Life.org.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) is evergreen.  Here is more information from BluePlanetBiomes.org.

Linnaea borealis (Twinflower) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Rook.org.

Paxistima myrsinites (Mountain lover) is evergreen.  Here is more information from SWColoradoWildflowers.org.

The remainder of the suggestions are deciduous or, at best, semi-evergreen.  They could add interest and color for the spring, summer and fall.

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow)

Actaea rubra (Red baneberry)

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly-everlasting)

Aquilegia caerulea (Colorado blue columbine)

Aquilegia flavescens (Yellow mountain columbine)

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood)

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Creeping barberry
Mahonia repens

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Twinflower
Linnaea borealis

Oregon boxleaf
Paxistima myrsinites

Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Red baneberry
Actaea rubra

Western pearly everlasting
Anaphalis margaritacea

Colorado blue columbine
Aquilegia coerulea



Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcovers for a slope in MA
April 04, 2010 - We live in Eastern MA. We have a hill behind our house that was previously mulched. Slope is 45 degrees in direct sun, clay soil. We have another hill by the road side that is partially shaded with ...
view the full question and answer

Shrub or Vine for NH Slope
May 11, 2013 - I'm looking for a native plant/shrub/vine that can be used to control erosion on a relatively steep slope in New Hampshire. Do you know of any?
view the full question and answer

Eliminating and replacing Tradescantia species
July 03, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need advice. I recently figured out my 10 month old dog is highly allergic to Tradescantia sp, commonly known as the Spiderworts, and "Wandering Jew" which covers about h...
view the full question and answer

Non-vascular moss between flagstones in Mechanicsburg PA
July 11, 2009 - We would like to plant moss between our flagstone. However, the moss will have full sun all day. Can you recommend a moss for Central Pennsylvania near Harrisburg?
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers over roots in Roeland Park KS
June 18, 2013 - Large Hackberry tree (aprox 50+years) roots are popping up above ground making mowing under/around it impossible. Is there a plant, ground cover, something I can plant, or cover the roots with that w...
view the full question and answer

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