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?

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

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

Sunday - August 01, 2010

From: Carlisle, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Container Gardens, Planting, Shrubs
Title: Plant to cover retaining wall in Carlisle PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a block retaining wall in my back yard. I need to find a quick growing plant that will grow through late summer into fall and cover the wall with limited sunlight.

ANSWER:

Are you talking about late THIS summer and into fall? If so, you might consider plastic shrubs, because we don't know of anything else that would work. In the first place, even in Pennsylvania, we don't recommend planting things in summer. That is the time when existing plants are finishing up their blooming and coming into fruit (seeds), to be deposited into the soil, where they will wait out the winter cold and be ready to germinate in the spring. Or, they are preparing to drop all their leaves, because they are deciduous and that is a way to protect the plant from the cold.

Seriously, if you need to block the view of a retaining wall right away, maybe because of a potential sale of your house, there is no plant that could grow that quickly, especially with low sunlight. Even if you could plant a row of shrubs in front of that wall, it could take them years to grow tall enough and to fill in and screen the view of the wall.If you purchase something big enough to do the job, transplanting it would be a difficult job, and it could well go into transplant shock, and either have its growth retarded for 2 years or more, or simply die. 

We would like to make a suggestion similar to one we made to someone who wanted to know how to plant kudzu to cover an ugly wall while the house was for sale. Of course, we were totally opposed to the propagation of a plant that is non-native and invasive. They were in the wrong climate for kudzu and even if it had been ideal, not even kudzu could have covered that wall in the time frame they had in mind. Our suggestion was to first paint the wall with masonry paint, which might not be practical in a retaining wall, which probably has moisture behind it. To go along with that, we suggested simply plainting a row of small shrubs in front of the wall to distract the eye without trying to get them to grow to completely cover it. And, finally, we said if they didn't want to invest in something they would soon (hopefully) move away from, they could buy some plants of an appropriate size and pot them up in large terra cotta pots. Then, when the house was sold, they  could just put the pots on the moving truck and take them to distract the eye from something else in their new place.

 

More Planting Questions

Need advice for planting Bur Oak saplings in Comal County
October 09, 2012 - We will be planting several bur oak saplings this fall in deeper soils in Comal County. How close should we plant them? What mortality should we expect? Thanks in advance for your assistance.
view the full question and answer

How do I save my recently transplanted yaupon holly?
April 20, 2011 - Recently transplanted (two weeks ago) a yaupon holly tree from one part of the yard to another. Leaves are beginning to turn yellow and fall. What can be done to save this plant?
view the full question and answer

need recommendation for small evergreen shrub in Katy, TX
September 14, 2015 - recommendation regarding small to mediun evergreen palnt in full sun in 2feet by8 feet area.
view the full question and answer

Seeds of Meremia dissecta from Austin
September 30, 2012 - I have a large quantity of seeds of Merremia dissecta that I acquired from plants growing in the parking lot of the San Antonio Museum of Art. (Hmmm… I wonder if it's called alamo vine because of som...
view the full question and answer

Adjustments to soil level change around tree from Austin
May 29, 2014 - I am moving in to a new construction home in south Austin, builder has leveled the ground and sodded the front yard, I have a post oak in the front and because of the changes to the landscape the tree...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center