En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Need help growing plants in red dirt in Mount Pleasant, NC.

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 - September 17, 2011

From: mt.pleasant, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Soils, Wildflowers
Title: Need help growing plants in red dirt in Mount Pleasant, NC.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I live in N.C. and I have had the hardest time getting plants to grow;I have red dirt at my house. Can you suggest a few colorful plants that would do real well in red dirt? Thank You So Very Much!!!!!!!!!!Sincerely

ANSWER:

Let’s start by talking about North Carolina soils. This link from USDA  tells about state soils, and we learn that the representative soil of North Carolina is termed Cecil soil. Cabarrus County is in a belt of Cecil soils in North Carolina. From the soil profile, we see that there is a 6-8” surface layer of dark sandy loam on top of a subsoil layer of red clay and clay loam that is several feet deep; aka red dirt.

There are a couple of strategies (besides moving) that you could use to allow you to grow plants around your house. The first is amending the soil to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil and improve drainage. This link to finegardening.com has a good article on improving clay soil.

The other strategy is to consider growing plants in raised beds. This link to Popular Mechanics tells how to construct raised beds, and this article from about.com has instructions for growing plants in the beds.

As for the plants, I am going to introduce you to our Native Plant Database that will help you select plants for your situation. The Database  contains 7,161 plants that are searchable by scientific name or common name. There are several ways to use the Database, but we are going to use the Recommended Species List.  To do this, go to the Native Plant Data Base , and scroll down to the Recommended Species List box. Clicking on the map will enlarge it so that you can click on North Carolina. This will bring up a list of 135 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in North Carolina. That's probably too many, so you can go to the “Narrow Your Search” box on the right  of the screen and and select for herbs, tress, shrubs, vines etc. to get a list of plants for you growing situation. Clicking the Scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that gives the characteristics of the plant, its growth requirements, and in most cases, photos. You can get different lists by changing the Light requirement and Soil moisture selections.

For help closer to home, you might contact the folks at the Cabarrus County Center of NC Cooperative Extension.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Weed killer and bluebonnets in Angleton, TX
March 18, 2010 - Is there a way to weed my yard with weed killer and not harm my bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

Why Did Gaillardia and Aquilegia Changed Color?
June 26, 2013 - Both a Gaillardia pulchella and two red columbines bloomed normally last summer, but this summer the Gaillardia's petals are all yellow and one columbine is white and the other is yellow. What caused...
view the full question and answer

Fourth-grade research on Texas Wildflowers from Dallas, TX
January 06, 2014 - Mr. Smarty Plants, Hello, I am a fourth grade teacher and my students are about to begin a project on Texas Wildflowers. Some of the information they will require is the scientific name of the plant...
view the full question and answer

Digging wild buttercup from roadside in Mechanicsville MD
May 28, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, is it illegal to dig out wild buttercup in Maryland? I see them along the dirt road or just in the ditch. Since buttercup considered weed, I'm wondering what the law say about this...
view the full question and answer

Is there a variety of bluebonnet called black gumbo
February 04, 2008 - I live in Grimes County, Texas on the eastern edge of the Blackland Prairie. A few years ago my hillside of Bluebonnet seed was harvested. I was told it was a rare 'black gumbo' variety of bluebon...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center