En Español

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?


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
2 ratings

Friday - June 11, 2010

From: El Cajon, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Erosion Control, Groundcovers
Title: Replacing non-native iceplant in El Cajon CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Help! We are clearing fungus dead iceplant on a massive steep bank. Should I avoid replacing it with more iceplant? Would myaporum prostrate be a better option? Fast growing, erosion resistant, zero maintenance & minimal water usage are our goals.


In our Native Plant Database, there is a plant. Verbesina virginica (white crownbeard), of which "iceplant" is one of its half a dozen common names, although it is commonly known as "Frostweed." 

We are pretty sure that is not the plant you are referring to, but rather a succulent, native to South Africa, Delosperma cooperi, also with the common name "iceplant." Since we do not deal in non-natives to North America, it will not appear in our Native Plant Database, but we found this site from Paghat's Garden, Delosperma cooperii that has some good information. 

From Arizona Wildflowers, this site on native to Australia Myoporum parvifolium has some pictures and information. 

Because these are both non-natives and also considered invasive, we really have no advice on which to use or why. Our suggestion is that you go to this page on groundcovers native to California from Las Pilitas Nursery, a wonderful resource for anyone who wishes to grow native in California. Since you are in San Diego CA, we believe they are relatively close to you, but you can also visit them online. 


More Groundcovers Questions

Grass installation with plugs from Austin
February 05, 2013 - As much as I would love to use the seed mixture you suggest for Austin, I am not physically able to do the needed prep and was unable last year to get a professional. No one would even call me back wh...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover in Louisiana
November 17, 2009 - I need a suggestion for an evergreen groundcover plant that can tolerate moist soil. I want something that is low maintenance to go around a pergola in my backyard that gets mostly full sun.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a clay/shale bank in PA
April 06, 2010 - We have a 200ft x 30ft bank in front of our house (PA) the soil is made up with clay and shale. what ground cover will grow fast
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shady slope in clay soil
May 20, 2015 - I need to stop erosion on a very shady, sloping side of my house. It is cly soil. We drive our rider mower over it to get to the grassy area in our yard. What perennial ground over might work? Thank...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center