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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.

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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.

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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.

 
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Saturday - May 03, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Vines
Title: Shade tolerant plants for erosion from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Austin and my house backs up to Shoal Creek. I am looking for a native creeping vine or something that will grow on the shaded bank to help prevent erosion. It should be able to tolerate the flooding that happens 5-7 times per year.

ANSWER:

We are going to start, going to our Native Plant Database and,  using the selection list on the left-hand side of the page, check Texas, "grass or grass-like" for HABIT, "perennial" for DURATION, "shade" (2 or less hours of sun a day, or "part shade" (2 to 6 hours of sun) for LIGHT REQUIREMENTS and 1-3 ft for HEIGHT. We started with grass or grass-like because, with long fibrous roots, grasses are usually the best bet in controlling erosion. We will make additional searches for the HABIT of "herb" (heraceous blooming plant), "vine" and "shrub," using the same specifications. You can then follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn if its growing conditions match those in your garden. And you can use the same method to look for more plants, maybe with different specifications, that will suit your purposes  better.  Before we put any plant on your list, we will check the USDA Plant Profile Map on that plant to ensure that it will grow in or near Travis County. Texas is a very big state, and there are a lot of very different climates, soils and rainfall amounts, so you want to make sure you are planting something where it will grow. The fact that your slope is shady does limit the number of choices.

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Smilax pumila (Sarsaparilla vine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern)

Berlandiera lyrata (Chocolate daisy)

Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin)

Mahonia repens (Creeping barberry)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

 

From the Image Gallery


Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

Sarsaparilla vine
Smilax pumila

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Common lady fern
Athyrium filix-femina

Chocolate daisy
Berlandiera lyrata

Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum

Creeping barberry
Mahonia repens

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

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