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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 30, 2010

From: Brookville, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Low growing groundcovers for pond banks in Brookville PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


What are some good low growing ground cover plants for pond banks? Zone 5, mostly sun, preferably something I could start from seed? Hopefully low maintenance & non-evergreen. Perennial & hardy preferred.


We are going to look for some plants that can tolerate very wet soil, and will stay fairly low, native to the area around Jefferson County, PA, USDA Hardiness Zones 5a to 5b. You said "mostly sun," so we will call that "part sun," which we consider 2 to 6 hours of sun a day. Our biggest challenge was the "low" part, but we did manage to find 11 suggestions that will grow under the conditions you stated. All are perennial, most if not all are non-evergreen. Follow each plant link to the page on that plant in our Native Plant Database to learn how to propagate it, growing conditions and whether it is perennial or annual and evergreen.

We found a website for the North American Water Garden Society of South Central Pennsylvania which might have closer to home information on the maintenance of a pond, or where to find plants. You might also go to our National Suppliers Directory, type your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" and you will get a list of native plant seed companies, nurseries and consultants in your general area. You may contact them to see if they have what you want or have other suggestions.

Low growing plants for moist soil in Central Pennsylvania:

Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina springbeauty)

Dalibarda repens (robin runaway)

Fragaria vesca (woodland strawberry)

Galium triflorum (fragrant bedstraw)

Hydrocotyle umbellata (manyflower marshpennywort)

Linnaea borealis (twinflower)

Parnassia glauca (fen grass of Parnassus)

Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)

Viola cucullata (marsh blue violet)

Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

Images from our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Claytonia caroliniana

Dalibarda repens

Fragaria vesca

Galium triflorum

Hydrocotyle umbellata

Linnaea borealis

Scrophularia lanceolata

Sanguinaria canadensis

Viola cucullata

Dichondra carolinensis

Phyla nodiflora







More Groundcovers Questions

Growing non-vascular moss as a lawn from Seattle WA
July 27, 2013 - I have lots of moss in my back yard. How can I encourage it to grow over the whole yard?
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for Shade Under a Sweetgum
March 25, 2015 - I have 3 large sweetgum trees that produce so much shade each summer, and grass, even grass meant for shade, won't grow here. It's become a barren desert! I have English ivy but it only seems to gro...
view the full question and answer

Native Grasses for Houston, TX
April 06, 2015 - What native grasses can I use for my lawn in Houston, TX? It appears that Habiturf is not recommended for our climate. Is there another variety of seed available yet that I can use to start a small ...
view the full question and answer

Would Habiturf or buffalograss work in Charlottesville VA
July 18, 2012 - Hello, I am looking for an alternative to traditional turf grasses. I stumbled upon some information on your site about buffalo grass and LBJWC's 'Habiturf' mix and would like to know if this w...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for high canal bank in Florida
May 27, 2009 - My home is on a canal to a natural lake in Central Florida (Orlando area). I am wondering if there is a wildflower that I can grow on a 3' high canal bank that is mostly shady.
view the full question and answer

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