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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


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.


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







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