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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 - May 08, 2012

From: Newburgh, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Plants to grow between flagstones in the Hudson River Valley of New York
Answered by: Anne Ruggles

QUESTION:

I live in newburgh, ny & have aquired some bluestone. I want to do a walkway but will need a low mowable ground cover to go between the stones (not enough bluestone to cover the area. I know I have to set the stone in stone dust. do I put soil over the stone dust for planting & what would be a good choice for the plants?

ANSWER:

We will start with the construction question and advise you to talk with the contractor, if you are having someone put in the walkway. Let them know that you intend to put plants between the stones. If you are doing the work yourself we recommend that you contact a master gardener in your area and ask for advice.

Plants tucked between flagstones face challenges that plants elsewhere in the garden don’t. Flagstone walkways are generally set on compacted soil. You will need to select plants that thrive on compacted soils or add soil between the stones. The gaps between the stones should be a couple of inches wide to accommodate the plants.

The plants you choose for the gaps should be tolerant of being stepped on, not grow too tall, and have long-lasting foliage. You live in Zone 5b so you need to limit your search to plants that thrive there combined with the conditions of your yard (bright sun/ shade/ part shade/ watered/ never watered, etc.).

The best place to start to build your potential species list is the Wildflower Center’s web page. Go to the “Explore Plants” tab, click on it and in the drop-down menu click on the “Recommended Species” link.  Click on New York on the map and you will be taken to a list of species native to New York. You can use the criteria on the right side of the page to narrow your search.

 

Some plants to consider are:

Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and gold) is a small prostrate plant that tolerates a variety of growing conditions.  

Claytonia virginica (Virginia springbeauty, Springbeauty) is a low-growing perennial that prefers a partly shady moist site and that will grow on a variety of soils.

Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern teaberry) this is an evergreen that grows 2 to 6 inches and prefers part shade or shade.

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry) is an evergreen growing up to 2 inches that prefers part shade or shade.

Phlox divaricata (Wild blue phlox, Louisiana phlox, Blue woodland phlox, Sweet william, Wild sweet William) is a medium-sized, perennial plant that sends out runners and prefers shady to partly shady moist sites on a variety of soils.   

Phlox subulata (Moss phlox, Moss pink, Rock pink) is a mat-forming evergreen perennial that thrives on poor, sandy soils. It produces masses of colorful flowers.   

Potentilla neumanniana 'Nana'  (Creeping Cinquefoil) is a prostrate, mat-forming cinquefoil which typically grows 3-4" tall and that can spread rapidly by runners to form a dense ground cover. You can see images here.

Sedum ternatum (Wild stonecrop, Woodland stonecrop) this prostrate perennial plant prefers thin soil on moist partly shaded sites.   

 

  

The "Cold Climate Garcening" web site is a good source of nurseries in the Hudson Valley that carry native planets.

You can also go to the Wildflower Center web site, click on the "Explore Plants" tab, then on Suppliers in the drop-down menu to find suppliers in your area.

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Woodland stonecrop
Sedum ternatum

Eastern teaberry
Gaultheria procumbens

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Virginia springbeauty
Claytonia virginica

Wild blue phlox
Phlox divaricata

Green and gold
Chrysogonum virginianum

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