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?

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
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
4 ratings

Wednesday - April 07, 2010

From: Bethesda, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Plants for erosion of shaded slope in Bethesda MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an eastern facing heavily shaded slope in Bethesda, Md. that needs a few good native plants to keep it from eroding. Ferns are not doing well on it. They do much better in the flats. So, anything else would be great especially if it is native.

ANSWER:

We are glad you are asking for native plants because that is all that will ever be recommended to you  by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - plants that are not only native to North America but also to the area in which they are being grown.

The best plants for eroding slopes are native grasses. These are not traditional lawn grasses that will be mowed, but of varying heights and appearances. Their long fibrous roots will hold the soil year round, and reduce runoff. We define "shade" as less than 2 hours of sun a day; that may limit the number of choices of grasses that we have, but we will try. In addition, we will look in our Native Plant Database for some low-growing shade tolerant herbaceous blooming plans and shrubs that could also help with the erosion and be attractive. 

Fortunately, we have an excellent resource for information on the Chesapeake Bay area. Bethesda, at the southwestern tip of Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay in USDA Hardiness Zone 7a, would definitely fall into that area. We suggest you first read the information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Field Office Bay Scapes, to give you some information on the environmental situation there. From the same source, we have a list of in our Special Collections of the Plants of Chesapeake Bay. We will go to that list, use the Narrow Your Search function to select on Maryland, "grasses or grasslike plants" under GENERAL APPEARANCE and "shade" under LIGHT REQUIREMENTS. We will use the same technique to search for "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants" and "shrubs." Since we will only give you some examples, you can repeat the process and make your own choices. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that particular plant to get more information.

Grasses or Grass-Like Plants for Shade in Bethesda, MD:

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Herbaceous Blooming Plants for Shade in Bethesda, MD: 

Aruncus dioicus (bride's feathers)

Asarum canadense (Canadian wildginger)

Caltha palustris (yellow marsh marigold)

Eupatorium purpureum (sweetscented joepyeweed)

Shrubs for Shade in Bethesda, MD:

Clethra alnifolia (coastal sweetpepperbush)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

Viburnum acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum)

From Our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Calamagrostis canadensis

Carex pensylvanica

Chasmanthium latifolium

Sorghastrum nutans

Aruncus dioicus

Asarum canadense

Caltha palustris

Eupatorium purpureum

Clethra alnifolia

Gaultheria procumbens

Rhus typhina

Viburnum acerifolium

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Should Solanum eleagnifolium, silverleaf nightshade, be removed from yard
October 01, 2009 - I live in Upstate NY. I'm quite sure, after checking many sites/pictures, that I have a couple specimens of Silver Leaf Night Shade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) growing in the "wild" portion of my side...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for shade in Peoria, Arizona
February 25, 2009 - My six-foot block wall is on the west side of my yard. There are two large shade trees in front of the wall. What kind of shrubs can I plant near this wall that only gets sun for about 2 hours in th...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under Juniper for San Antonio
September 14, 2012 - I have a shaded area under juniper in the Hill Country of Texas that has many sprouts from the tree. We have to weed whack it to keep them under control. What ground cover could I use to enhance tha...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade native to New York
June 13, 2006 - I am gradually trying to convert my garden to all natives. I am working in a shaded area under a maple tree. Are there any varieties of epimediums/barrenwort or hellebores that are native to the nor...
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center