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

Thursday - April 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native, invasive bamboo for sloped river bank in Texas?
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What type of native plants/trees/shrubs/grasses would you recommend planting on a 20 ft sloped bank on the Colorado river in Texas to prevent further erosion of the bank? How do you feel about bamboo? I hear it is excellent at preventing erosion but can be invasive.

ANSWER:

We feel really, really bad about bamboo. It is not only invasive but non-native to North America. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we deal only in plants that are native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. See this eHow website on How to Get Rid of Bamboo to demonstrate why you do NOT want to plant that.

Grasses are what you need. Their extensive fibrous root systems hold the soil in place. Here are a few that should do the job:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) does well in part shade and shade and on stream banks.

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) requires full sun (6 hours or more per day) and moisture.

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass) grows in part shade (2 to 6 hours sun per day) and does well on stream banks.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) grows in sun and part shade and can withstand flooding.

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly) requires sun and often found by streams.

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) for sun and part shade and grows well in damp places.

The following shrubs,  along with the grasses, should also do well to help control erosion. 

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) grows in part shade and shade.

Forestiera pubescens (stretchberry) grows in sun, part shade and shade.

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto) grows in sun, part shade and shade.

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) grows in sun, part shade and shade.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) grows in part shade and shade.

Prunus rivularis (creek plum) grows in part shade and is good for erosion control.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Chasmanthium latifolium

Andropogon glomeratus

Tripsacum dactyloides

Andropogon gerardii

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Panicum virgatum

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Forestiera pubescens

Sabal minor

Lindera benzoin

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Prunus rivularis

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Is Tropical Milkweed Harmful to Monarchs?
April 24, 2015 - I believe I recently read that the orange flowering Mexican milkweed carries a virus(?) or something that harms monarch butterflies. What are recommendations if I use this plant in my northern CA yar...
view the full question and answer

Are Castor Bean Leaves Toxic to Pets?
September 13, 2014 - I understand that the beans of the castor plant on lethal if chewed on. Are the leaves that toxic? I would love to plant this plant and not let it flower, but I do have visiting grandchildren and dog...
view the full question and answer

How to Deal with Leggy Artemisia 'Silver Mound'
October 03, 2015 - I have two Artemisia (I think 'Silver Mound') in full sun in West Austin. They have been happily growing there for the past 10 or so years. Both were hard-hit by last winter's cold weather and did...
view the full question and answer

Hours of darkness for non-native poinsettia to bloom
October 28, 2005 - I have a poinsettia from last Christmas still alive. I was told to get it so many hours of darkness. Do you know how many hours? When would be the best time to start displaying the plant again?
view the full question and answer

Sweet cherry tree for New Mexico
January 23, 2013 - What is the best kind of sweet cherry tree to plant in Santa Fe, NM? I have apple, apricot, peach and pear. Would like cherry unless it is a bad idea.
view the full question and answer

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