Trees making it difficult to plant grass? Join the club. A love affair with big shady trees makes it frustrating to find sharp-looking plants and groundcovers that will thrive in the shade. It is one of the most often asked questions that my customers ask.
Try these on for shade...er, size:
• Southern shield fern Dryopteris ludoviciana
This deciduous native fern is tall -- it grows up to 4 feet with 1-foot wide fronds. This fern will tolerate more sun than most ferns, if moisture levels are adequate. Cut it back in August. Also known as a wood fern or Southern maiden fern.
• Spreading sword fern Nephrolepis cordifolia
Great ground cover for moist shade. Grows into spreading masses.
• Crested iris Iris cristata
A spreading evergreen that has pale flowers in spring, and of course, loves shade.
• Walking iris Neomarica gracilis
Prefers good morning sun with afternoon shade. Produces white blooms with yellow, blue and brown markings.
• Pigeonberry Rivina humilis
Produces small flowers and red berries. Good for growing under trees and tall shrubs. Likes moist, productive, and well-drained soil. Not good in droughts (oh well).
• "Katie's compact" ruellia Ruellia brittoniana "Katie's compact"
A top choice. Forms clumps with dark green foliage, and has purple flowers. Not particularly cold-hardy but will come back.
• Australian violet Viola hederacea
Evergreen and spreading. What else do you need?
• Creeping jenny Lysimachia nummularia
Especially good for areas that stay rather wet. Good for sun or shade. Has yellow flowers in summer.
• Ajuga Ajuga reptans
Fast growing and has dark blue flower stalks. Will grow in deep shade but requires decent drainage.
Not a comprehensive list, by any stretch. If you have a suggestion, share it with us by commenting below.
Special thanks to Landa Gay, from the Houston Chronicle and http://www.chron.com/houstongardening