TX Zone 9/10 and plants loving shade?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by skeptik2, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    This is my very first post here, so bear with me, will you?

    I'm moving to So. Central TX and the house has no grass...not a blade. The front faces mostly west, a little south.

    It is a small lot, and the front has a big, messy tree that drops long hair-like tendrils right now (spring) and the front mud is covered in tiny little acorn-like things. Seems it would be a mess if grass were planted there. It would get almost no sun whatsoever, as the tree blocks the afternoon sun.

    The tree is also on a little rise and all the soil to the sidewalk and drive slants downward; a drainage, soil-erosion problem for plants? Most nabors have that ugly green metal edging around their front lawns; I really don't like that look.

    What plants can survive all shade? Low-lying ones, no more that 3' high and 4' in diameter would do nicely for the corners of the lot...but what else?! I like the low, busy fan palm thingys, but don't know how high/round they get.

    Because of the acorns, there's no way to mow, so mulch? TX does like xeriscaping, but I won't have much money after the move. It would have to be simple, low maintenance and withstand light freezes not lasting long, and high temps in summer.

    After all you gentle folks help me with the front, I tell you about the back...now that will be a real challenge!

    Think of me as all the front and back mud is tracked into the newly renovated house of all tile floors, please!

    Thanks, y'all (I hear that's a common way to say it down there)...

  2. Sacajawea2

    Sacajawea2 Member

    I have lots of hostas planted out in my front yard...lots of shade. I'm in zone 5 so I'm not sure if they thrive in Texas...but I have several varieties and they pretty much withstand everything except slugs love them!

  3. therealmadscientist

    therealmadscientist New Member

    And I thought I had garden problems! Let's see, mud and shade.......maybe perfect for toad lilies?

    They are hardy zones 5-9. I haven't actually tried growing them, but have been debating trying some. Pretty flowers.

    Hellebores seem to shade liking, but I'm not sure if cold enough where you are. I have some ready to plant, but this will be first year for me.

    Maybe some sort of clover might grow. Maybe strawberrys, they can spread fast, though probably wont get berries.

    Best of luck. Maybe dandelions? They are actually rather pretty and seem to victums of their own successful. Someplace in England has some variety with white flowers so that might make them acceptable.

    Cheers, and let us know if you have success, Your Mr Billl

    Ummm, I usually suggest throwing out bird seeds for a quick cover, but may need more sun for them to grow. Also, they are annuals and leave a lot of stalks.[<i>This Message was Edited on 03/26/2009</i>]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/26/2009]
  4. monica33flowers

    monica33flowers New Member

    of plants I found that should work for you. In the shade you could do a "shade garden" with hostas, ferns, etc. I have one and I absolutely love it. I add impatiens in pots for splashes of color.


    I hope this helps. Let me know if you need any other help OR stop by the Garden Com Post where we chat about plants, butterflies and all that good stuff.
  5. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Welcome to the board. What impeccable timing you have, as I was just at Lowes today AND I live in So. Central Texas. The soil here isn't ideal, so that makes planting quite a challenge, but we do have many lovely plant options.

    I like buying plants that I can put in pots because the soil is isn't so great. The other thing about our weather is that it changes on a dime in the spring. It will literally be in the 80s for a few days and then in the 50s or 60s for a few days. We also get high winds and often severe weather (thunderstorms and sometimes hail---which happened Wednesday actually) in the spring also, so the plants need some protection. The poor plants don't know what to do in the spring with all of the crazy weather.

    When you have potted plants, there's much more flexibility to bring them inside when necessary. I don't know if you've heard of Ixoras, but they are a fantastic perennial. They are very attractive and easy to care for. I've had experience with a lot of different types of plants, and it's hard to kill these.

    The best part is, they can go in the sun OR the shade! They can withstand severe heat, and if it dips below 40 degrees, you just bring them inside. Super easy. They have a few varieties of these----orange blooms (Called Maui Ixoras) and buttercup yellow blooms (not sure what this one is called). There's also deep pink ones (Nora Ixoras I believe). I've got three Mauis and three of the yellow ones. I've never had one die on me. Love 'em!

    Hydrangeas (which I love) are great in the shade too but hard to care for. They are very dependent on their soil environment (as I was just told by a Lowes employee today), and since our soil isn't good here, that means a big commitment to keep them going. Oh well!

    Best of luck getting moved in!! You're doing it at the right time of year---before it gets too toasty. :)

    Take care,


  6. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    I love hostas! Great idea...thank you so much for replying.

    Soooo sorry I'm not responding in a timely fashion; I'm packing and making what seems like a million phone calls to get things done.

  7. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    I'm not sure if you're pulling my toad leg; toad lilies? Is there really such a thing?

    How cold does it have to get for hellebores? I've seen it can get down to freezing for a couple of hours a few times a year. Is that enough? What do they look like?

    Now, strawberry as ground cover sounds very interesting; do they flower at all? Wouldn't care if they got berries; however, if they did, would the squirrels or other little critters like them to eat?
    I'd like that.

    I don't want annuals, I don't like the money needed to replace them each year.

    What do you mean, bird seed? (You can see I've not done much gardening, lol). Is that a joke? Do they sprout and grow something? What?

    Gosh, thanks for the really good suggestions and the time for replying!

  8. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    Thank you so much for the link! I wil check it out as soon as I have a minute more!

    Did you mean the garden post here on this site, or a dot type thingy?

  9. Granniluvsu

    Granniluvsu Well-Known Member

    I also now live in TX and came from NY but have lived here for over 30 years. Not sure what our zone is. Now welive in a very shady spot with little sun also. One thing I know that really thrives here is ivy. Not sure of the type of anything but it seems to thrive really well in the warm weather.

    We also planted some impatients that do well. "Monkey Grass" makes a good border and is very hearty. If I an think of something else I will let you know.

    We are north of Houston so do not know how far south or how "central" you are. We are more SE TX. Sounds like you are farther south than we are. Good luck in your move. You did not say where you were moving from. I see you have spoken to Monica who knows alot about flowers and plants. Glad you got some "expert advice" and also some sites to check out.

    Let us know when you get settled in and have time to chat.



    [<i>This Message was Edited on 03/28/2009</i>]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/29/2009]
  10. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    Ixoras? What an interesting name. What do they look like? Do they have to go in potting soil, not in the ground? I really don't know about dragging pots around, in and out of a garage that doesn't have much room to begin with...especially with my energy levels.

    I love hydrangeas, but I cannot be counted upon to get the soil right for them. I really need "plant 'em and ignore'em stuff.

    I hope I like So. TX; I'm sick of too long of winters and I need more sunshine in my life! Don't know if I really want 95* weather, but there's a community swimming pool, so maybe I can get rid of some flab, with all the moving, gardening, and swimming...wish me luck!

    Again, thanks!
    p.s. I saw a picture of the house; in the small back yard is a tree that has long, skinny branches with clusters of flowers on the very ends...almost a "burst" of leaves and flowers, no leaves on the long skinny branches, tho'. The bark looks smooth. Any idea what it could be?
  11. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    Well, not too close a neighbor, as I will be a little south of SA, and I'm sure it must be dry there. It is in a severe drought right now, I hear. I think north of Houston gets a lot more rain, doesn't it?

    I have seen monkey grass and really like it...does it get invasive, need a border to control it? Does it need "thinning"?

    I also like ivy...is there a specific one that lies low to the ground and doesn't need "weed eating" to keep it low....anybody out there know? Would it need a border to keep it out of the other plantings? That would be a lot of "border" needed.

    I'm moving from "dying" Michigan and I've had it up to here with cold, snow and ice, so looking forward to warmth!

    later...I need to rest now.
  12. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    If you wish, check out these two websites for pics of the Ixoras: (I agree, it's an interesting/unusual name :))

    www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=17004 Scroll down to the second person's entry for a pic of the yellow Ixora. The bloom is more emphasized then the leaves, but the leaves are really pretty too!

    Here's another website that shows several different varieties:


    They can go in pots OR in the ground. I've had the best luck here in TX with pots because our soil can hardly be called soil---it takes a lot of effort to get the soil optimized for the plants to thrive.

    Basically, we have wacky weather here sometimes and bad soil, that means if you want plants it unfortunately requires some energy sometimes for plants. I understand that's a tall order sometimes with our health issues. Once you get used to it, it's not always that bad. Maybe your husband can help you out. The other trick is to get SMALL PLANTS! Those big pots with the soil get heavy. Usually gardening is low maintenance with some spikes in energy during the spring. Right now is when it takes a little more energy because I'm moving the plants from the inside to the outside (although my hubby is helping me), and then a little bit in the winter if it freezes because you don't want the plants to die. (You also don't want the plants to get hailed on.) Depends on what you want to do.

    Also, during the spring, we get severe weather sometimes. Just as it's time to plant, we can get hail, as we did on Wednesday. Why plant them if they are going to get hailed on? With pots, you can bring them in. I know that takes energy. Unfortunately, that's how it goes here. I don't like covering the plants up, and they aren't going to survive if we get hail.

    Our weather also changes A LOT between November and April. It's not cold all the time. We can have days with highs in the 80s and then a drastic cold front with highs in the 40s and 50s with lows in the 30s, and the next day our LOW TEMP will be higher then the high temp the day before. It confuses the plants. When it's freezing outside, there's the choice of covering them up with cotton sheets or bringing them inside. With the Ixoras, you can just KEEP them inside for several months. It's easier then covering them up with sheets and taking them off several times.

    You can't avoid the wacky weather and freezes, so taking that all into account, the Ixoras are the best option for me. I've tried so many plants, and the Ixoras are not only pretty, but versatile. A plant that can tolerate temps between 40 degrees (even slightly cooler) to 110 degrees, sun and shade to me is really flexible. That's about as no-nonsense as it gets. All plants will have to be either covered or moved when there's a freeze or hail. Unless you want annuals or don't care if they die. I just like perennials.

    Not sure what type of tree you have. I still feel like a newbie in terms of all of the different kinds. There's LOTS of varieties of trees, flowers and shrubs here. Also, it's important to know that unfortunately we've been in a VERY severe drought. That's a good thing to take into account as you move here. Have your husband mulch the trees and any shrubs or bushes you have to help lock in moisture and keep them watered!! You don't want them to die. That's one important thing I learned. The best mulch is Texas hardwood mulch. I learned these things from the head one of the Lowes nurseries. She went to "nursery school" (that sounds funny ;-)). She's very experienced. The best time to water is early in the morning when it's cooler out.

    The temps in the summer will get very hot (over 95 unfortunately sometimes), but we just tolerate it the best we can. You'll certainly get plenty of heat, sun, and sweat! Make sure to drink lots and lots of water. I'm a little tired of the extreme heat, but most people love it. Most of the people here are warm and friendly.

    I'd start out with a few small plants and see how it goes. No need to overtax yourself. GOOD LUCK!!

  13. Granniluvsu

    Granniluvsu Well-Known Member

    Oh, the heat will probably take awhile to get used to especially coming from such a cold place. In NY it was pretty cold to but yot as bad as you, I do not think. I could not take it any more for sure. I am so stiff and hurt all the time that cold is really bad for me. I still take the heat rather than the cold. Just remember, here in TX we have a/c almost everywhere . So, that is a good thing. Up north growing up we had no a/c but just about the time we moved in the late 60's some people either had portable window units or had it throughout the house (if you had the money to do so). You really did not need it very often but you surely did need the heat a lot.

    In answer to your questions. The Monkey grass after quite awhile might need some thinning but it is pretty hearty. The ivy I was talking about is pretty low to the ground and doesn't need alot of trimming.. We have it in a big area in the front. Occasionally we have to trim it as it grows out from the sides, by the walkway. It is not tall and the vines can go pretty long but not up, just out if you know what I mean (unless you put it to go up a trunk of a tree or something).

    Happy moving abd hope you do not wear yourself out doing so !!

    Bye for now and happy planting !!


  14. monica33flowers

    monica33flowers New Member

    Helleboros aka Coral Bells will take the cold. Actually, I have several of them growing here in WI. So, they do freeze but they come back.

    I think you should just start with a few plants like another poster said and see how things go from their. Those Ixtonia (sp?) look gorgeous so why not try a few of those with some hostas and call it a day. You don't want to go overboard until you really understand the soil and temperatures. Especially coming from Michigan. I'm green with envy that you moved somewhere more south. I would love to move as well but that probably won't happen for a few more years.

    Good luck and be sure to ask lots of questions wherever you buy your plants. Most places are great to let you know what works best.

    PS: Mr. Bill the Mad Scientist isn't pulling your leg. Their are such a thing as toad lillies. He is a regular on our Garden site. Oh, no our gardening site is right here on the board. It is called the Garden Com Post. Stop on by if you ever want to chat.
  15. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    I'm going to try to keep this posting and replies handy, if I can figure out how to do it. No good at this yet.

    I'll bump it ocassionally (sp?) in order to keep it close at hand.

    Hostas, monkey grass, helibores, and more...can't wait to get to Lowes!
    Since I have so little sun, will try to have a lovely shade garden by my bedroom back patio, where I can see it every day when I get up.

    Thank you all again, I appreciate your replies so much.

    Exhausted, so don't know how far I'll get on the lawns this year, but it will be my first project as soon as I get settled and rested.

  16. Beadlady

    Beadlady Member

    you could try some wild flowers and see what happens. Not too expensive.
  17. therealmadscientist

    therealmadscientist New Member

    Must be a Cassandra type curse I'm "blessed with". I try to give my honest opinion and everyone thinks I'm pulling their leg!

    Which is maybe why I make humor so much.

    Not just you, Skeptik2..........my whole life is humor after I realized that being serious just wasn't getting me anywhere but miserable! sigh, LOL

    Anyway, glad that Monica confirmed that toad lilys were for real:)

    The bird seed grows huge crop of plants, and seeds, like millet. With an occasional sunflower. Kind of looks like a crowded three foot high cornfield.

    A very pretty bright pink flowering ground cover strawberry is available ( I haven't seen any berries). I probably got mine from Raintree nursery or One Green World. Blooms for a few weeks in spring, I think it's called "Lipstick". Regular strawberries have white flowers that aren't very conspicuous.

    Strawberries can spread rapidly, by runners, and can almost be a weed.....if you don't have any deer around to eat them all in one night (it happens).

    I'm just trying some of things myself, so can't give much experience.

    I guess maybe try to get some free plant catalogs, maybe for southern climate.

    Experimenting is a lot of fun for me in garden. I wonder if any of those luscious, fragrant, semi tropical plants might grow in shade. A Meyer lemon would be wonderful if I could grow one outside here. (Still frosting at night here).

    With some sun, you could get some great strawberries. Robins in particular like strawberries. Hmmmm, cut down (or trim) shade tree, replace with a semi dwarf tree?

    Well, wish you luck, and fun, and not too much frustration, with your yard. Your Mr Bill

    [This Message was Edited on 04/06/2009]
  18. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    Well, was able to move on the 6th! It was amazing; out of old house and in new in just 23 hours! Great moving company!

    Mr. Bill, can't cut down the tree; owners of house don't want that. Would strawberries stay in place and not overrun a whole yard if enclosed in some kind of barrier? They sound pretty.

    Don't think bird seed plants will work if they get that high; need plants that get about/no more than 2 feet, or they would be out of "scale" for the space available.

    Thank you all for the wonderful advice, and I'm sure I'll be poring over catalogs from the stores in this area as soon as I can get all the boxes unpacked and find places for everything...it's much smaller than I expected, so will have to be really creative in placement of everything.

    It's bedtime, and I sorely (pun intended) need it...so, thank you again everyone, for the help and suggestions..

    [This Message was Edited on 04/13/2009]
  19. therealmadscientist

    therealmadscientist New Member

    The lipstick berries were quite a surprise, and quite pretty when they bloomed. Sort of florescent pink.

    Just push the runners back, or cut off, before they root and plants should be controlable.

    I have a loose 2 inch layer of soil on top of harder soil. This Spring, I was able to "peel" the top layer and strawberries off the ground fairly easily in one spot. I cleared an area to plant a new variety of strawberry.

    I guess some varieties can become over crowded......with berries getting smaller or disease. I'm much too lazy to dig up every three years and replant, as some growers recommend.

    Could be a lot worse "weeds" than strawberries:) I think there are some 300+ named varieties of strawberries. I'm favoring the Alpine varieties that don't get so crowded if left alone. Though the regular strawberries seem to have thinned themselves this winter.

    I'm wishing you Good luck and success in your yard. Your mr bill

    Oh, I'm a little prejudiced against ivy. It really takes over, and seems to be happy home for snails. The snails migrate every evening toward any edible plants near the ivy. Anyway, I've had a few struggles with ivy....definitely tough to get rid of or control:)

    [This Message was Edited on 04/13/2009]
  20. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    Good point about ivy. I don't want it taking over everything! What everything will be right now, I don't know.

    I'm going to start a chart of when the sun is in diferent parts of the yard and for how long...the back yard is only about 8' deep, but seems to get the most sun, even if only 2-4 hrs a day. Don't know cuz not up until 10-11!

    I'm liking the sound of strawberries more and more, do believe I'll have a patch of them somewhere, thanks.