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?


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
2 ratings

Wednesday - February 03, 2010

From: Carlsbad, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Shrubs to stabilize steep slope in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Suggest shrubs to stabilize steep bank that are drought resistant and resistant to too much rain. Cape honeysuckle? oleander? bottle brush? What?


Tecoma capensis (cape honeysuckle) is a native of  South Africa, Nerium oleander (oleander) is native to the Mediterranean and Asia, and Callistemon sp. (bottlebrush) is native to Australia.  Additionally, oleander is listed in the California Invasive Plant Inventory Database as moderately invasive.  So, since the focus and expertise of the Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America, Mr. Smarty Plants wouldn't recommend ANY of the above plants.  We can, however, recommend plants native to Southern California that will work for you.  Las Pilitas Nursery (with nurseries in Escondido and Santa Margarita) has a very good article called Simple Erosion Control for a Hillside or Garden Slope with suggestions for native plants.  Here are some suggested native plants for your area from us and from that list:

Arctostaphylos patula (greenleaf manzanita)

Artemisia californica (coastal sagebrush)

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (blueblossom)

Ceanothus leucodermis (chaparral whitethorn)

Salvia sonomensis (creeping sage)

Eriogonum fasciculatum (Eastern Mojave buckwheat)

Diplacus longiflorus (southern bush monkeyflower)

Epilobium canum ssp. angustifolium [syn. Zauschneria californica] (hummingbird trumpet)

You can find more native plants for Southern California on our Recommended—Southern California page.

Here are photos of the above plants from our Image Gallery:

Arctostaphylos patula

Artemisia californica

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus

Ceanothus leucodermis

Salvia sonomensis

Eriogonum fasciculatum

Diplacus longiflorus

Epilobium canum ssp. angustifolium





More Shrubs Questions

Is slow growth of young Tx mountain laurel normal?
July 02, 2012 - My Texas mountain laurel is 2 or 3 years old and is about 4 feet tall. It seems quite healthy but has grown very little, if any, and has never bloomed. Is this normal? Although I don't want it to gro...
view the full question and answer

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

Butterfly bushes and weed killer in Pueblo West CO
August 27, 2011 - I have 3 previously healthy butterfly bushes that have one by one developed masses of tiny yellowish-green compact leaves. The entire bush went from its normal healthy appearance to something that res...
view the full question and answer

Trimming American beautyberry in Austin
December 20, 2009 - I have recently developed an interest in plants and since I work for a country club taking care of all the House & Grounds Maintenance, the landscaping is certainly a part of my work. I have a questi...
view the full question and answer

Hedge of native Purple Sage in Austin
November 20, 2008 - Hi, I would like to plant a dense hedge of Purple Sage that will hopefully grow from 6-8 ' tall and about 4' wide. I purchased the Silverado Sage Leucophyllum frutescens 'Berstar Dwarf' variety....
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center