Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Filler for between flagstones in Michigan
July 05, 2014 - I have a natural shoreline project underway (replacing a seawall) with all native Michigan plants replacing the lawn as well. A flagstone walkway is going in and I wanted "moss" type filler in betw...
view the full question and answer

Planting creeping phlox for a groundcover
June 13, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Southwestern PA (zip code 15065). I have a small slope on my property that is hard for me to mow. I would like to cover it with creeping phlox, which I saw on t...
view the full question and answer

Removing bermudagrass from buffalograss in Smithville TX
May 01, 2013 - I have a lawn created two years ago with buffalo grass sod in Smithville, TX. Recently several areas of bermudagrass have started to flourish in the buffalo grass lawn. Can you recommend a herbicide...
view the full question and answer

Alternative for HABITURF® in Contra Costa County, CA
September 17, 2014 - We live in Kensington, just north of Berkeley, in the San Francisco area. We intend to get rid of our water consuming lawn and we are wondering what kind of alternative you would suggest. You don't s...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.