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 Shrubs Questions

Low Shrubs for Under First Floor Windows in DC
February 24, 2015 - I'm in search of bushes to plant under the first floor windows of an apartment building I manage. I'm interested in both deterring intruders and in making the grounds more attractive. Any suggestion...
view the full question and answer

Varieties of Ceanothus suitable for Illinois
September 07, 2012 - Ceanothus Velutinus is the smell of western Montana, my home, to me, and I have relocated to Illinois. I miss it so much that whenever I go home I bring back a jar of ceanothis leaves and keep th...
view the full question and answer

Need tree suggestions for a long, narrow strip in Folsom, CA.
January 18, 2012 - I live in Folsom, Ca. I have a long strip (50') of planting area about 2.5' wide at the top of a retaining wall to the fence behind it. I would like to plant alternating (2) trees down this strip to...
view the full question and answer

Texas Mountain Laurel oozing sap in Spicewood, TX.
July 05, 2012 - We have a Texas mountain laurel that seems to be sweating. Oozing sap with no apparent signs of any type of bore holes, or holes made from any birds.
view the full question and answer

Failure of Viburnum dentatum to produce berries in Maryland
September 20, 2008 - I planted several Viburnum dentatum shrubs in a hedgerow for my yard. Although I have some other viburnums in the yard, this shrub blooms profusely but does not ever produce berries. What can I do t...
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