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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

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