Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
2 ratings

Thursday - August 04, 2011

From: Takoma Park, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers
Title: Ground cover for a slope in MD
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Looking for a groundcover to hold a shady slope undercut with tree roots in Maryland and to prevent further erosion.

ANSWER:

I am unable to visualize the situation you describe as "undercut with tree roots" but if established tree roots are in the equation that means whatever you plant will be competing with them for available water.  Combine that with shady and slope and you have a gardenoing challenge indeed.

In order to determine what plants that are native to Maryland that will survive in those conditions visit our Native Plant Database and do a Combination Search selecting: Maryland, dry/shady conditions and your plant type.  The list that is generated will have links to detailed plant information pages with images.  You will want to search herbs (herbaceous perennials) and grasses for plant type.  You can also try subshrubs or very small shrubs. You will want to select plants that either have fibrous root systems or spread fairly vigorouly via stolons.

You will likely be disappointed by how few choices there are ... I am sure you have already realized that this is a tough place for plants to live.

Here are a few plants form those lists that might be worth a try:

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry)

Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Diervilla lonicera (Northern bush honeysuckle) 

Gaultheria procumbens (Checkerberry)

Hypericum prolificum (Shrubby st. johnswort)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

 

From the Image Gallery


Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Birdfoot violet
Viola pedata

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Northern bush honeysuckle
Diervilla lonicera

Eastern teaberry
Gaultheria procumbens

Shrubby st. john's-wort
Hypericum prolificum

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

More Groundcovers Questions

Ground cover for heavily traveled walkway from Redondo Beach CA
April 23, 2013 - I am looking for a drought resistant ground cover that you can walk on. I live on a south facing, sunny corner lot, 2 blocks from the beach where people park and need to cross over to get to the sidew...
view the full question and answer

Low growing groundcovers for pond banks in Brookville PA
July 30, 2010 - 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 pre...
view the full question and answer

Drought-resistant ground cover for Massachusetts
July 11, 2012 - Mr Smarty Plants I am looking for drought resistant,low maintenance ground cover for a LEED certified project in Florence MA. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Ground covers for Denton, Texas
May 17, 2007 - Hi, I live in "The Colony", Texas. I want to have a garden that is evergreen and colorful and low maintenance. Also looking for ground covers as do not have time to remove weeds growing in the flow...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for North Central Texas
May 27, 2014 - I have a very large area that is in Palo Pinto County, Texas. We tried to plant grass but it never established. I'm looking for a ground cover that does well in shade (lots of oak tees) and is semi d...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.