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 - March 01, 2010

From: Hillsdale, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a sunny, dry slope in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Looking for plants, native to area, that are quick growing to a height of approximately 6" to 12" for a steep slope comprised of shale in a sunny location.

ANSWER:

You don't give a lot of detail about your project; whether you are hoping to create a "garden" in this area or to simply plant functional plants that will survive and prevent erosion.  I'm assuming that when you say a slope comprised of shale, that you do have some topsoil, and that you are not looking for "rock garden" plants.

Grasses, with their fibrous root systems, are the surest solution to this challenge, but there are perennials (especially those that spread readily) that should do fine in this environment.

Your plant choices will ultimately be limited by what is available in the nurseries in your area but you can begin the selection process by visiting our Plant Database and doing a Combination Search.  First select New York and then sunny and dry conditions and then you can select grasses and herbs (perennials) to generate plant lists.  When you click on the link for the plants that look interesting, you will be taken to the plant information page (which can also take you to a Google search or lead you to possible sources for the plant). If you decide to go bigger, and you have the soil depth, you can also find shrubs that will work.

Here are some we think may work for you:

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)

Perennials

These will add some interest and give a bit of a sense of a meadow.  They are all tough.

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

 

From the Image Gallery


Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Prairie dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Growing non-native daylilies from Albuquerque
May 05, 2013 - Need some tips on planting daylilies in the Northeast heights of Albuquerque. I've amended clay soil with cottonbur mulch/compost mix and added gypsum. Can I do anything else to ensure growing succes...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant with white flowers and serrated leaves in creek bed
September 17, 2012 - I have a wild fall blooming plant, white flowers, serrated leaves. Growing abundantly in my dry creek bed. Any thoughts?
view the full question and answer

Tall perennials for a sunny North Carolina border
March 26, 2012 - I need border plants for in front of a picket fence along front sidewalk. Space is only approx 1'6" wide and widening is not an option. So far I have daylilies, cannas, Mexican petunias, daisies, i...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for Shade Under a Sweetgum
March 25, 2015 - I have 3 large sweetgum trees that produce so much shade each summer, and grass, even grass meant for shade, won't grow here. It's become a barren desert! I have English ivy but it only seems to gro...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shaded area in East Texas
July 23, 2013 - I live in East Texas and have an area that is shaded most of the day - it only gets sun in the middle of the day but it is direct. What would be best? I would prefer something that won't freeze, bu...
view the full question and answer

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