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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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Tuesday - August 23, 2011

From: Indianapolis, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers
Title: Drought tolerant plants for IN
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

What are some plants that would do well in an east facing area near my front door? I live in Indianapolis IN. I need something that is drought resistant and will fill in a 4x3 foot walled off area that is in the nook created by my steps leading up to my bi-level home. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

In a small space like that you will want to keep it fairly simple but will want something that will be attractive as you enter your home. I would recommend choosing one shrub and then underplanting it with short perennials or ground cover.

Although you will ultimately be limited by what plants are available in your local nurseries, you can begin the selection process by visiting our Native Plant Database.  Do a Combination Search and select: Indiana, the plant type (shrubs and herbaceous perennials) and your conditions and your size requirements & preference.  The list has links to detailed information pages with images.

Some plants that meet these criteria are:

Shrubs

Physocarpus opulifolius (Atlantic ninebark)

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush blueberry)

Viburnum acerifolium (Mapleleaf viburnum)

Perennials (less than 1 foot tall)

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa (Roundlobe hepatica)

Maianthemum stellatum (Starry false lily of the valley) (this can be a bit taller than one foot)

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry)

Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet)

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood) (one of my all time favourites, but it requires more moisture)

Here are some photos from our image gallery:

 

From the Image Gallery


Atlantic ninebark
Physocarpus opulifolius

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Highbush blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum

Mapleleaf viburnum
Viburnum acerifolium

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

Roundlobe hepatica
Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa

Starry false lily of the valley
Maianthemum stellatum

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Birdfoot violet
Viola pedata

Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

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