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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - February 21, 2010

From: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Region: California
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for steep slope in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have steep slope, southwestern facing, minimal shade in Southern California. The soil is rocky. Because of fire danger, I would rather not plant grasses. Do you have a suggestion?


First of all, Las Pilitas Nursery, specializing in California native plants in Escondido and Santa Margarita, has an excellent article, Simple erosion control for a hillside or garden slope, that I think you might find helpful.

Here are a few recommended plants from our California-Southern Recommended list and from Las Pilitas.  Both sources have more suggestions.

Artemisia californica (coastal sagebrush)

Diplacus aurantiacus [syn. = Mimulus aurantiacus] (orange bush monkeyflower)

Eriogonum fasciculatum (Eastern Mojave buckwheat)

Arctostaphylos patula (greenleaf manzanita)

Dendromecon rigida (tree poppy)

Salvia apiana (white sage)

Salvia mellifera (black sage)

Baccharis pilularis (coyotebrush)

You can check the relative fire resistance for these plants and others in Las Pilitas' article, Leaf burn times of California native plants.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:

Artemisia californica

Diplacus aurantiacus ssp. aurantiacus

Eriogonum fasciculatum

Arctostaphylos patula

Dendromecon rigida

Salvia apiana

Salvia mellifera

Baccharis pilularis





More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Source for silver ponyfoot from Temple TX
March 19, 2013 - Where can I purchase dichondra argentea -- I live in Bell Co. but am willing to come to Austin if need be. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Failure of TX bluebonnets to thrive
May 28, 2015 - We have had extraordinary luck with bluebonnets growing in our driveway of decomposed granite--until last year and this year. The bluebonnets seem to be drying up and wilting away. The ones in other a...
view the full question and answer

Leaf browning on blackfoot daisy in Arizona
August 26, 2008 - Blackfoot daisy plant was doing great; then, in one day, it turned brown like it had no water. Have a watering system in place which waters once a day for one hour 1/2 gallon a hour.
view the full question and answer

Petals not developing on blackeyed susans from Nashville TN
July 05, 2011 - I have an established "patch" of black eyes susans. This year, the leaves are beautiful, the centers black..but the petals are practically non existent. They didn't seem to develop correctly. Any...
view the full question and answer

Container plants for part shade in Bee Cave TX
June 18, 2013 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants, I am looking for plants that will thrive on my covered porch in 3 tall planters. These are meant to help me block an unattractive view out my living room window, so they must...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center