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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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Monday - May 14, 2007

From: Sonora, CA
Region: California
Topic: Groundcovers, Ferns, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Understory plants for Tuolumne Co., CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My driveway is lined with purple plum trees. I would like to grow something underneath them. What can I grow that will not harm the root system/health of the trees?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants isn't sure whether you want a groundcover, wildflowers or shrubs; but here are a variety of plants that are native to Tuolumne County California, should work well in your area and should not harm your plum trees. The only harm that could come to your plums by planting beneath them is the actual act of digging the holes which will disturb the roots. Try not to cut major roots (those thicker than your thumb) in the process of underplanting your trees.

Grasses

Festuca idahoensis (Idaho fescue)

Ferns

Pellaea mucronata (birdfoot cliffbrake) or Polystichum imbricans (narrowleaf swordfern)

Groundcover Plants (<1 ft.)

Fragaria vesca (woodland strawberry) or Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Dudleya cymosa (canyon liveforever)

Sedum lanceolatum (spearleaf stonecrop)

Eriogonum ovalifolium (cushion buckwheat)

Perennials (>1 ft.)

Eriogonum umbellatum (sulphur-flower buckwheat) or Eriogonum wrightii (bastardsage)

Lupinus albifrons (silver lupine), Lupinus bicolor (miniature lupine), Lupinus grayi (Sierra lupine) or Lupinus latifolius (broadleaf lupine)

Mentha arvensis (wild mint)

Penstemon davidsonii (Davidson's penstemon), Penstemon newberryi (mountain pride) or Penstemon rostriflorus (Bridge penstemon)


Fragaria virginiana

Dudleya cymosa

Sedum lanceolatum

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum umbellatum

Lupinus albifrons

Mentha arvensis

Penstemon davidsonii

 

 

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