by Tony Reznicek

For those of you who missed Dr. Tony Reznicek at October’s General meeting, attached is his handout. Also below is a link to his website as Curator and Research Scientist at the University of Michigan Herbarium. It was an excellent presentation.

Some additional notes and information:

A few plants to avoid accepting from well-meaning friends:

  • Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) – a terrible pest
  • Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor) – OK in specialized confined settings or if you use small cultivars
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix) – OK in some specialized confined settings
  • Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis) – Too dense for most plants to grow through, use only in small, confinable spaces
  • Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) – except in spaces where it can be confined
  • Most Buttercup (Ranunculus) species, especially R. ficaria, and R. repens. These can be ferocious weeds
  • Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) – lovely, but a very fast spreader, and seeds too
  • Creeping Lilyturf (Lirope spicata) – forms an impenetrable dense mat
  • Running Bamboos – no exceptions here!!!

If you really want areas with uniform groundcovers in shade, these will do on a small scale:


  • Redwood Ivy (Vancouveria hexandra) – a rapid spreader about 6 inches tall
  • European Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) – rapid spreader, but very delicate
  • Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ – fairly tall, but slowly forms a dense cover
  • Small Hostas

Evergreen (or nearly so):

  • Himalayan Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum venustum) – very nice but slow; will form a dense mat with time
  • Allegheny-spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) – suitable only for small areas; very slow
  • Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera) – a fast spreading low cover, only the flowers are erect
  • Cranesbill (Geranium macrorrhizum) – too dense for bulbs, but slow and tolerant of very dry sites

A good reference book to start with:

W. George Schmid. 2002. An Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials. Hardcover, 494 pages, 8-½” x 11″, 500 color photos, 1 b&w photo, 1 map. Timber Press, ISBN 0-88192-549-7 [check http://www.bookfinder.com/ for discounted or used copies]

A local source to start with:

Arrowhead Alpines
1310 North Gregory Road
Fowlerville Michigan, 48836

Some mail order places:

Quackin’ Grass Nursery
16 Laurel Hill Road
Brooklyn, CT 06234

Shady Glen Nursery
10 Kendall Lane
Freeport, Maine 04032

Plant Delights Nursery
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, NC 27603

The vastly best selection:

Far Reaches Farm
1818 Hastings Ave.
Port Townsend, WA 98368

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