En EspaŅol

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
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

Wildflower garden with Castilleja indivisa (Indian paintbrush)
January 08, 2013 - I want to start a wildflower garden in my front/backyard. Specifically, I would like to include the indian paintbrush. What is the best way to go about this? Straight in the ground, containers, etc...
view the full question and answer

Late Blooming Wildflowers for Round Rock
August 06, 2014 - I thought this would be a previously answered question but found nothing in the data base. My question is: in Central Texas what can be grown for some color or interest in a wildflower area when the w...
view the full question and answer

Spreading bluebonnets in pasture from Ledbetter TX
April 29, 2013 - I've found a small patch of bluebonnets in my back pasture in Ledbetter, tx. What is the best method of encouraging their spread across the pasture? I've heard that one can pull up the plants and ...
view the full question and answer

Planting for steep slope in Alabama
July 30, 2008 - I am looking for a plant for a steep slope down to a creek in our backyard in Birmingham Alabama It will get some morning sun but will be in the shade in the afternoon. I was thinking of wildflowers...
view the full question and answer

Variety of colors in bluebonnet seeds from Houston
November 18, 2013 - Bluebonnet seeds I have collected are a variety of colors, from the sandy/tan color to a grayish color and black color. Are all variations viable? Are they equally viable?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center