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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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Tuesday - July 01, 2008

From: Santa Rosa, CA
Region: California
Topic: Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Low maintenance plants for crack in concrete
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I would like to grow some very low maintenance weeds, mosses and flowers out of a crack in a slab of concrete. Can you recommend any species that would do well in this sort of scenario? Plants that do well in varying conditions (humid/dry/low light) would be best. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Well, it would help to know why you want to grow the plants there and what size you are thinking of—for landscaping? for erosion control? Not many people want to know about growing weeds, but one person's weed is another person's wildflower!  Assuming you want something that isn't too large (since you asked about mosses) or too showy (since you asked for weeds), here are some recommendations:

Antennaria parvifolia (small-leaf pussytoes) various light—sun, partial shade, shade and dry soil

Triodanis perfoliata (clasping Venus' looking-glass) shade and low moisture

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan) various light—sun, partial shade, shade and dry soil

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) various light—sun, partial shade, shade and moist or dry soil

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) various light—sun, partial shade, shade and moist or dry soil

Carex hystericina (bottlebrush sedge) various light—sun, partial shade, shade and moist soil

Festuca californica (California fescue) part shade and moist or dry soil

Mimulus kelloggii (Kellogg's monkeyflower) part shade and moist to mesic soil

Penstemon heterophyllus (bunchleaf penstemon) part shade and dry soil

Sisyrinchium bellum (western blue-eyed grass) part shade and various soils

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) sun, part shade and moist or dry soil

You can also do your own searching on our website by going to the Recommended Species page and choosing northern California from the map.  You will get a list of "Commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Northern California."   You can then "Narrow Your Search" using various characteristics.

Mosses are probably a very good choice for something to grow in the concrete crack as long as there is sufficient moisture available.  Our Native Plant Database is limited to vascular plants of North America and does not include non-vascular plants (e.g. Bryophytes—mosses, liverworts, etc.).  You can read about California Bryophytes.  You might be able to locate a nursery in our National Suppliers Directory specializing in plants native to northern California that carries native mosses.  Alternatively, you could reponsibly transplant a small patch of native moss or collect fruiting bodies with spores from your area to begin a native moss colony in your concrete crack.


Antennaria parvifolia

Triodanis perfoliata

Rudbeckia hirta

Bouteloua curtipendula

Elymus canadensis

Carex hystericina

Festuca californica

Mimulus kelloggii

Penstemon heterophyllus

Sisyrinchium bellum

Phyla nodiflora

 

 

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