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

Monday - September 29, 2008

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants for a drainage easement in central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a 1/3 acre of drainage easement behind my home. I would like to cover it with wildflowers. It is only wet during or shortly after a rain and otherwise does not have water. I have channelled the water to cut down on the erosion but would like the plants to improve erosion and provide a groundcover much like bluebonnets do naturally in Texas. Also, do I need to prepare the soil by tilling or otherwise?

ANSWER:

First, I suggest that you visit our How to Articles page and read "Meadow Gardens" (under LARGE SCALE WILDFLOWER PLANTING) since that is essentially what you want to create.  You will read in the article that the inclusion of native grasses with the wildflowers is important for several reasons, but one of the main ones is that grasses are excellent plants to prevent erosion.  Their extensive fibrous root sytem is very good at holding soil in place. 

Here are a few grasses that are attractive and native to Central Texas:

Shorter grasses (generally 1 ft. or less)

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri (curly-mesquite)

Taller grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass)

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

You can find a selection of commercially available recommended native plants for Central Texas by selecting that area from the map on our Recommended Species page. On that list are many possibilities for selections for wildflowers for your space (for instance, Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel), Castilleja indivisa (entireleaf Indian paintbrush) and Oenothera speciosa (pink evening primrose)Native American Seed in Junction has a variey of wildflower seed mixes available for sale as well as seeds for individual species of wildflowers and native grasses. You can also find other sources for native seeds and plants in our National Suppliers Directory.

Tilling the soil isn't usually necessary unless you have a dense overgrowth of weeds.  In fact, tilling should be avoided if possible since this usually stimulates dormant weed seeds.  The most important thing for success in germinating your seeds is to have the seeds in contact with the soil.  This can usually be achieved by raking the area to expose the soil.  Native American Seed has some very helpful suggestions in Planting Tips and you also should read "Getting Started" on our How to Articles page.  


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri

Bouteloua curtipendula

Eragrostis intermedia

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Lupinus texensis

Gaillardia pulchella

Castilleja indivisa

Oenothera speciosa

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Plants for a moist, wooded area in North Carolina
December 06, 2014 - I am looking to plant some native flowers in a wooded area in Surry County NC. The chosen location is fully shaded beside a creek. The water table typically sets about 2 feet below the surface of th...
view the full question and answer

Flowers for sandy soil and sun in Wharton Co., TX
March 23, 2010 - I live in Wharton County. I am looking for flowers to plant in beds that have sandy soil and are well drained. The area receives sun all day until 5-6 in the afternoon. I would like to have flowers t...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for Trinity, TX
March 23, 2013 - I need a list of deer resistant flowers, herbs and plants that would could be planted in Trinity, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Dealing with aphids on milkweed plants in Alloway, NJ.
July 11, 2012 - I planted milk weed for the Monarch butterfly. Every year it gets orange aphids that seem to suck out the juices and eventually kill the plant sooner than I like.
view the full question and answer

Reproducing Echinacea 'Sunbeam' from Powthan VA
August 03, 2011 - I would like to reproduce a flowering plant- Sundown echinacea. I have a plant now. Can you give me info on how to do it? thanks so much.
view the full question and answer

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