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
1 rating

Sunday - July 10, 2011

From: Durand, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Plant to stabilize river bank in Wisconsin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live along the Chippewa River in Pepin County WI and are looking for a blooming plant to help "hold" our river bank and also look attractive..it must be strong enough to take the spring flood.

ANSWER:

Here are some small to medium-sized shrubs with attractive flowers and/or berries that should work well to hold your river bank.  You will want to get them in and well-established before flood season so that their roots will have grown sufficiently to keep them in place.  You might also consider some grasses along with the shrubs.  The fibrous root systems of grass are excellent at holding onto soil.

Shrubs:

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush).  Here are more photos and information.

Hypericum prolificum (Shrubby St. Johnswort).  Here are more photos and information.

Physocarpus opulifolius (Atlantic ninebark).  Here are more photos and information.

Spiraea alba (White meadowsweet).  Here are more photos and information.

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry).  Here are more photos and information.

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American cranberry bush).  Here are more photos and information.

Grasses:

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

 Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye or canada wild rye)

Pascopyrum smithii (Western wheatgrass)

You can do your own search for plants suitable for stabilizing your river bank by choosing Wisconsin from the map or pulldown menu on our Recommended Species pageThis will give you a list of more than 170 native plants that are commercially available and recommended for landscaping in Wisconsin. When you reach the "Wisconsin Recommended" page you can NARROW YOUR SEARCH by making choices in several categories—General Appearance, Lifespan, Light Requirement, Soil Moisture, Bloom Time, Bloom Color and Height.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Shrubby st. john's-wort
Hypericum prolificum

Atlantic ninebark
Physocarpus opulifolius

White meadowsweet
Spiraea alba

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

American cranberry bush
Viburnum opulus var. americanum

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Western wheatgrass
Pascopyrum smithii

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Drought tolerant plants for MA
August 28, 2011 - We have some very very poor soil at our house on Cape Cod and are looking for plants that will take low water and sandy soil. Also we are high on a hill and quite exposed to the elements. The plot get...
view the full question and answer

Need some help with a Buffalo grass planting in Salado, TX
October 23, 2009 - Recently we planted buffalo grass sod in the spring of 2007. During the summer I had a problem with barnyard grass due to a lot of rain. During 2008 I had a problem with nut grass. I had been advise...
view the full question and answer

Growing native grasses in containeers in Illinois
May 16, 2007 - Hi. How well would native grasses grow in container gardens in Illinois? What soil would you suggest? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Native prairie grasses for East Texas
September 19, 2013 - What are the best grasses for native east texas prairie grass reestablishment, I have a small acreage I would like to turn into native grass land.
view the full question and answer

Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
February 07, 2014 - We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil...
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