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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 07, 2009

From: Pembroke, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Native plants for morning sun in Pembroke MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Could you please suggest native groundcover,plants/shrubs/grasses for eastern facing slope which gets morning sun? It is my front yard which slopes down toward driveway so it would be a major focal point. How about any evergreen ground cover? Thanks

ANSWER:

In selecting plants for an area, the exposure (east, north, etc.) is not really as important as the amount of sun the area gets in a day. We regard full sun as 6 or more hours of sun a day, part shade as 2 to 6 hours of sun and shade as less than 2 hours. Pembroke, Plymouth County, is apparently in USDA Hardiness Zones 6a to 6b, with average annual minimum temperatures of -10 to zero deg. F. Obviously, with shorter days and as far north as you are, even the morning sun is going to be less for a while, but you might make a rough sketch of your property with indications of the amount of sunlight  various areas receive.

We are going to go to our Recommended Species section, click on Massachusetts on the map, and then select some herbaceous flowering plants (herbs), shrubs, and grasses, checking each one to make sure it is native to your area of the state. We'll try also to find evergreen low-growing groundcovers. You can repeat this process, putting in the appropriate amount of light, soil moisture and so forth in your searches. We are just going to give you a sample and you can go from there. Incidentally, on a slope, there is no better plant to use than grasses, with their long fibrous roots to hold the soil. These are not going to be mowed lawn type grasses,  but taller, more ornamental grasses. Follow each link to the page on that individual plant to learn projected size, light needs, soil moisture, growth habit, bloom time, etc. We are going to search on "Part Shade" and "Shade" as we feel that's about the best you could hope for in your situation.

Plants for an east-facing slope in Plymouth County, MA:

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) - low, woody groundcover, evergreen, blooms white, pink June to August, part shade or shade

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) - trailing evergreen shrub for groundcover, blooms white, pink March to June, sun, part shade or shade

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed) - perennial, evergreen, blooms yellow April to June, sun, part shade or shade

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) - perennial trailing herb, evergreen groundcover, blooms white, pink or purple May to October

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia) - perennial, deciduous, blooms blue July to October, sun, part shade or shade

Rhododendron maximum (great laurel) - evergreen shrub, 4 to 15 ft., blooms white, pink in June, part shade

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood) - deciduous shrub or small tree, 20 to 30 ft. tall, blooms white May and June, part shade or shade

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint) - perennial grass 3 to 5 ft. tall, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) - perennial grass, part shade or shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Gaultheria procumbens

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Coreopsis lanceolata

Mitchella repens

Lobelia siphilitica

Rhododendron maximum

Cornus alternifolia

Calamagrostis canadensis

Muhlenbergia schreberi

 

 

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Need some help with my Mexican Bush Sage in Rockport, TX.
July 07, 2011 - My Mexican bush sage looks leggy,ratty and sparse. It's planted in full sun and was cut back to the ground in early spring. My soil is sand and I've watered it sparingly as we've had no rain. I'm...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for a slope from New Carrollton MD
June 27, 2012 - My house (Maryland, near DC) sits at the bottom of a south facing slope. The soil is very heavy clay. The grade is about 1:20 for about 100 feet (with a steeper part at the top). Part of the hill is i...
view the full question and answer

Cold stratification of Rudbeckcia maxima from Birdeye AR
August 08, 2013 - How long do I cold stratify Rudbeckia maxima seeds that I wild harvested? Can I put them in the freezer instead of fridge? Do I need to make sure they are completely dry before cold strat?
view the full question and answer

Overwintering a Juncus effusus in Great Neck, NY
October 23, 2008 - Can I over winter a juncus effusus spiralis indoors or must it be kept outdoors? Whether indoors or outdoors, what is the proper way to keep it alive during the winter months?
view the full question and answer

Heirloom plants for Gault Homestead in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, The Gault Homestead at 2106 Klattenhoff in the middle of Wells Branch Subdivision is to be planted with heirloom or heritage plants soon. There is some sun for the planter bo...
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