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

Sunday - February 19, 2012

From: Gallatin, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Managing Roadsides, Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like, Vines
Title: Native plants for roadside in Gallatin TN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What native plant would you suggest that we try to establish on 100 feet of road frontage which gets full afternoon sun? The soil is mostly clay, and it's on a rather sleep hill about 10 feet high. Trumpet vine? Forsythia? We want to establish something relatively low-growing and then will ask our state highway dept. to stop cutting and spraying that area. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Before we get into your question, we applaud your intent to use native plants in your landscaping but we do want you to know that Forsythia is native to southeastern Asia, but not native to anywhere in North America, which is what The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Mr. Smarty Plants recommend. Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) is native and grows naturally in Sumner Co. If you follow the plant link to our webpage on this plant you will learn it is deciduous, blooms red, orange or yellow from June to September, has low water use and needs full sun.

Before we make any other plant suggestions, there is a question you didn't ask and we don't know the answer. What are the adjacent property owner's rights in the road frontage? When you say you have 100 feet of road frontage, are there rules on what you can or can't do or what the Department of Transportation in your state can or can't do? If you are talking about what might be termed the "shoulder" from the edge of the pavement for some determined width, is that what you are planning to plant, and to ask the Department of Transportation to leave alone? Since we coould not determine the answer to this question, we suggest you contact the Sumner County Superintendant of Roads. If that is not the right place to find out, they can surely refer you.

Now we are going to help you with a list of plants for your purpose, assuming that you will be able to prevent the road department from mowing and/or spraying herbicide on the area in question. Since you have a problem of erosion, we are going to suggest mostly native grasses; with their long roots, grasses are ideal for holding soil against erosion, and many maintain their positions year round. Certainly the Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) we have already discussed would work, but you should be warned that it is very invasive. In a few years you (and your neighbors) could be cursing and trying to root the stuff out before it grows over your house.

We will find some appropriate grasses by going to our Native Plant Database, and using the Combination Search, select on Tennessee, "grass or grass-like" on Habit or General Appearance and "sun" for Light Requirements. We consider "sun" to be 6 hours or more of sunlight a day, "part shade" 2-6 hours of sun, and "shade" 2 hours. Some of these grasses can tolerate all three, but be sure you know how much sun your slope has before you make your selections. You can search our Native Plant Database in the same way finding other plants that suit your gardening requirements. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant for more information, including expected height, propagation instructions, etc.

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (Silver beard grass)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

 

From the Image Gallery


Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Silver beard grass
Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

More Vines Questions

Identity of vines in Florida
October 30, 2012 - Hello, I have 2 different types of vines growing in my shrubs. They are very pretty and I like them I just want to know if they are poisonous or if they will take over my shrubs. I have not been able ...
view the full question and answer

Vine for limited space, part-shade fence in N. Texas
June 14, 2009 - I have a narrow strip of yard (about 3ft) between my covered patio and privacy fence. Since the fence itself lacks visual interest, I'd like to find a vine to grow on the fence to give the backgroun...
view the full question and answer

Protection from native invasive trumpet vines
April 17, 2008 - Mr. SP: I have invaders! Trumpet vines from a neighbor's yard, two doors away have taken over and are eating my garage and trying to steal all the sun from my clematis vines. How do I get rid of...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a grapevine in San Antonio
May 20, 2009 - I planted a small grapevine that is growing well. I want to move it, (only tiny green grapes now, should be merlot) and wondering if I can do it now, mid May, or do I have to wait until fall? Not real...
view the full question and answer

Is hummingbird vine poisonous to parrots?
June 26, 2011 - Is hummingbird vine poisonous to parrots? I am setting up vines and plants around the aviary and would like to use this vine if it's not poisonous.
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