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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 16, 2011

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Wildflowers for a slope in PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I've got a steep southeast-facing slope near the house that is mostly overrun with day lilies. It gets plenty of morning sun. I've had some luck with goldenrod and New England aster along the steps as long as I weed the day lilies back regularly, but I'd like plants compatible with the goldenrod/NE aster combination to replace the day lilies altogether. The area is about 5 feet high by 3 feet wide. Summer blooming would be a plus, but grasses would also be OK.

ANSWER:

You are using the right strategy on that slope, gradually replacing the daylilies with more appropriate wildflowers.  They will keep your slope stable as your new plants take hold.

Ornamental grasses, with their fibrous root systems really are the best plants for a slope but there are many herbaceous plants (perennials and annuals) that will do the job and will complement your late summer/fall blooming asters and goldenrod.

To generate a list of these plants, do a combination Search on our Native Plant Database. Select: Pennsylvania/Herb(aceous plant)/Part shade/Your soil conditions(probably dry or moist depending on how much clay you have and how steep the slope is)/blooms in June,July (you choose).  You can also narrow your search by color choice and size. Each plant name on the list is linked to a more detailed information page.

There are many to choose from, and you will ultimately be limited by the plants you can locate in the nurseries, but this "Green Guru" has lived in the Philadlephia area and knows just how many great nurseries you have to choose from!  Here are a few of my favourite meadow wildflowers that I know will do well for you.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) (you HAVE to plant this one for the monarch butterflies)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel) (this is not dependably perennial but self seeds, so it moves around the garden)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot) (this really spreads but is easy to pull out and share)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan) (the velvety dark brown "eyes" persist throughout the winter and are great in dried arrangements)

A similar search for grasses will generate a similar list.  Here are a few recommendations:

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) (the seed heads light up in the fall sunshine)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) (this doesn't take too much space but the rusty fall color lasts through the winter)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) (this one is great but might be a bit too big for your space)

Here are some photos from our image gallery:


Asclepias tuberosa


Coreopsis lanceolata


Echinacea purpurea


Gaillardia pulchella


Monarda fistulosa

 


Panicum virgatum


Schizachyrium scoparium


Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

 

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflowers for Angel Fire, NM
March 20, 2007 - What wildflowers would you recommend for Angel Fire, NM, at an elevation of 9150 ft. with rocky soil and a windy, northwest exposure? Thank you for your help!
view the full question and answer

Native wildflowers for Denver, Colorado area
March 17, 2007 - I live in the Denver, CO area and would like to plant more native wildflowers. Can you please tell me where I can find a list?
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
May 02, 2006 - How are bluebonnets used by wildlife?
view the full question and answer

2012 wildflower forecast from Friendswood TX
September 29, 2011 - What is your current view of the 2012 Wildflower Forecast? What weeks might be best for someone traveling from Colorado to see our flowers? We are concerned about what the drought will do to the 20...
view the full question and answer

Establishing a wildflower meadow in Madison GA
January 21, 2010 - Can a wildflower meadow be established by seeding in a sunny pasture without removing all existing vegetation, just mowing low and slightly loosening soil with the teeth on a front end loader?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center