En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - September 13, 2008

From: Valdez, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Planting shrubs on a rocky slope
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need to plant a rocky slope, facing south and west, to cut down erosion. Other than creating terraces, are there tricks for securing individual shrubs or trees to a slope when planting? What plants to you recommend for zone 4 (near Taos Ski Valley) at 7,500 ft.? I'm assuming the native ones like chamisa, sage brush, Apache plume, but others, too? Thanks! Helga

ANSWER:

Planting on a rocky slope is tricky.  First, you are better off if you use shrubs that have meshed or intertwining roots rather than a tap root.  This type of root system is going to hold on to the soil better on the slope than plants with tap roots.  Mr. Smarty Plants found a forum, "Planting shrubs on a hillside", on GardenWeb with several useful suggestions. These include planting the shrubs in a plastic pot with the bottom removed.  The pot on the upside of the slope won't be visible and the edge of the pot on the downside of the slope will hold the soil and the roots in place until the plant is established.  You can then remove the visible plastic pot.  Another suggestion was to use plastic edging on the downslope side of the planting and fill with soil.  The plastic edging can be removed once the plant is established.  Still a more natural setting could be accomplished by making a small rock wall on the downslope side and filling it with soil.  It could be left in place or removed after the plant is established.

The three plants you mentioned—Atriplex canescens (chamiso), Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume) and the sagebrushes,  Artemisia frigida (prairie sagewort)Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush), Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush)—are all good choices.

You might also consider using various grasses.  Grasses are great plants for controlling erosion since they have extensive fibrous root systems.  Here are a few suggestions for grasses:

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton)

Here are more small shrubs that would do well on your rocky slope:

Cercocarpus montanus (alderleaf mountain mahogany)

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil)

Ericameria nauseosa ssp. nauseosa var. nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush)

Gutierrezia sarothrae (broom snakeweed)

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)

Rhus trilobata (skunkbush sumac) and photos and more information

Sphaeralcea coccinea (scarlet globemallow)

 


Atriplex canescens

Fallugia paradoxa

Artemisia frigida

Artemisia ludoviciana

Artemisia tridentata

Achnatherum hymenoides

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua gracilis

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sporobolus airoides

Cercocarpus montanus

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Ericameria nauseosa ssp. nauseosa var. nauseosa

Gutierrezia sarothrae

Mahonia repens

Sphaeralcea coccinea

 



 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Lack of Fruit on Forestiera
March 17, 2013 - I have not been able to get berry production on my elbow bush. I have male and female plants. Is it possible to help with the pollination process? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Living fence to contain sheep in Indiana
March 19, 2009 - I would like to plant a living fence that would also contain sheep. I have researched this but I cannot find a definite list of trees or shrubs to use. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Plant to stabilize river bank in Wisconsin
July 10, 2011 - We live along the Chippewa River in Pepin County WI and are looking for a blooming plant to help "hold" our river bank and also look attractive..it must be strong enough to take the spring flood.
view the full question and answer

Small shrub with thorns for Austin
February 08, 2010 - I'm looking for a shade-tolerant 2-3' shrub with thorns, native to Texas (ideally central Texas) - an alternative to Barberry? Does such a plant exist?
view the full question and answer

Container plant to grow in late afternoon sun
July 02, 2011 - I have a shaded brick walkway that leads to my front door. It faces west, and can get very hot late afternoon Houston sun, although it is shaded for the remainder of the day. I have been successful ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center