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Monday - March 26, 2012

From: Birmingham, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Wildflowers
Title: Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama
Answered by: Janice Kvale


My question has been partially answered in the FAQ but I live in Birmingham where the soil is clay and rocky so it's a little different. I want to plant on a rocky slope (small rocks like the size of golf balls or less) There's actually not much erosion but I'm not sure why. Maybe because of all the rocks and clay. It can be dry here in the summer but right now we get rain once a week. Here's what I want: Wild flowers, spreading or like a ground cover, flowering at different times of year, drought tolerant, some green all year, deer resistant, plant or seed now, 5 hrs sun It's a lot to ask for but I'm hopeful.


Dear Hopeful,

I focused on your request for short flowering specimens, including some listed as deer resistant. Deer resistant plants for Alabama are listed here on our website. All of the selected native plants listed below are generally happy with dry, rocky or clay soil and part shade sun exposure (2-6 hours daily). The bloom times listed are dependent on weather and location. It is possible the plant will bloom at any time during the months listed but not always continuously.

This link will give you a start on finding sets and/or seeds for the plants you select. Take a walk around your area also and see what is growing wild. Those are the plants that will grow the best for you. (I know some people think these native plants are weeds, but only if they are growing where they are not wanted.) In some locations, it may be legal and permissible to move wild specimens. For example, (Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) seems to grow prolifically, rather like kudzu except unlike kudzu, it is a native plant.

In addition, you may wish to check the following resources for lists of native plants in Alabama: This first reference lists Alabama plants by season, color and name. Another resource is the Southern Environmental Center in Birmingham. Finally, the superb Birmingham Botanical Gardens offers a class leading to a certificate in native plant gardening, just what you might want.

Finally I get to the list of possible low-growing native plants for your location:

Symphyotrichum pratense (Barrens silky aster) purple bloom, Sep - Nov., 0-1 ft.

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) tiny yellow flower, Mar - Nov., 6-12 in. Semi-evergreen (may be dormant in winter,) easily spreads.

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) white flower, May - Oct., 3-6 in., semi-evergreen.

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena) showy purple or pink flower, Mar - Dec., 6-12 in., deer resistant.

Hedeoma drummondii (Drummond's false pennyroyal) white or purple flower, May - Sep., 0-1 ft., deer resistant, aromatic.

Phlox drummondii (Annual phlox) showy white, red, pink, purple flowers, Mar - Jun., 6-12 in., semi-evergreen.

Portulaca pilosa (Chisme) red, pink, purple blossoms, Jun - Oct., 0-1 ft., annual.

Ruellia humilis (Fringeleaf wild petunia) purple flower, May - Sep., usually under 1 ft., sprawling.

Pityopsis graminifolia (Narrowleaf silkgrass) yellow daisy-like flower, Aug - Nov., 1 ft., semi-evergreen, thrives in poor soil.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) a grass-like sedge, 10-12 in., grows well near trees and will help hold soil on a slope. Mixes well with flowering natives.

I enjoyed doing this search for you and wish you a verdant future.


From the Image Gallery

Barrens silky aster
Symphyotrichum pratense

Calyptocarpus vialis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Drummond's false pennyroyal
Hedeoma drummondii

Annual phlox
Phlox drummondii

Kiss me quick
Portulaca pilosa

Prairie petunia
Ruellia humilis

Narrowleaf silkgrass
Pityopsis graminifolia

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

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