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

Part shade garden to attract hummingbirds in Texas
July 14, 2008 - We are inexperienced gardeners. We have a bed (2.5' x 6') with sun in the morning and shade in afternoon and want to attract hummingbirds. Salvia coccinea sounds easy, but what else could we plant...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under live oaks
June 18, 2012 - I have some areas under Live Oak trees (maybe 200 sq. ft.)that remain bare, in spite of trying Habiturf. Soil is dry, poor and shallow. Can you suggest a living ground cover that would not require m...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for shade in Dallas
November 30, 2008 - What native grasses can be grown under large Live Oaks in the Dallas Area? The combination of shade and black gumbo soil seem to keep all plant life, except for poison ivy and ferns, out. I would lo...
view the full question and answer

Michigan native plants for shady, low traffic area
May 10, 2006 - Hello, I am looking for a recommendation for a Michigan native groundcover. I live adjacent to the Rouge River watershed and want to buy the right thing. The location is shady, infrequently walked ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering plants for shady garden in Bastrop
July 02, 2010 - We live in Bastrop, 8 miles west of the Historical district. We have a small flower garden in a shady spot around 25 feet from the back patio of our home. We'd like to find out what native plants, f...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center