En Español

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?


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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
8 ratings

Monday - May 28, 2012

From: Atlanta, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Ground cover for shade from Atlanta GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am looking for recommendations for a ground cover. I live in the Atlanta, Georgia area and have a large shady slope on which I would like to use low maintenance/water native ground cover. What would you suggest?


With both shade and a slope to deal with, we are going to look for low-growing plants, all native to Fulton Co., GA. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the areas where they are being grown. The reason for this is that plants that have become accustomed to soils, climate, rainfall and available sunlight for centuries will be more likely to survive with less maintenance, water and fertilizer, thus conserving resources and cutting down on maintenance.

To do this we will go to our Native Plant Database. Using the Combination Search, we will select on Georgia,  Habit - herbs (herbaceous blooming plants), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) and shade (2 hours or less of sun) under Light Requirements, and 0-1 ft. under anticipated mature height. You can refine this search by using more specific times for sunlight availability, heights, soil moisture,etc. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each of those webpages, under Additional Sources, there is a link to the USDA webpage on that plant. We will look at that to determine which plants are native to Fulton County, before we put them on your list.

Low Herbaceous Blooming Plants for Slope in Atlanta GA:

Antennaria plantaginifolia (Plantain-leaf pussytoes)     USDA map

Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge pea)    USDA map

Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe (Southern green and gold)      USDA map

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)       USDA map

Hexastylis arifolia (Littlebrownjug)       USDA map

Houstonia caerulea (Azure bluet)        USDA map


From the Image Gallery

Woman's tobacco
Antennaria plantaginifolia

Partridge pea
Chamaecrista fasciculata

Southern green and gold
Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

Little brown jug
Hexastylis arifolia

Azure bluet
Houstonia caerulea

More Erosion Control Questions

Getting rid of non-native, invasive English Ivy from Davidsonville MD
March 19, 2014 - Just moved and need to rid the well established Ivy planted on the steep slope area around the back and side of the house as it is taking over the bushes on the top and trees in forested area at botto...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Road Frontage in NC
March 12, 2015 - I need a fast growing ground cover or perennial flower for 1,000 feet of road frontage about one acre that will choke out weeds. I do not want to do much ground prep or any ground prep. I do not want...
view the full question and answer

Riverbank Plants for Minnesota
September 04, 2013 - I would like to stablize a steep riverbank slope along the Upper Mississippi in St. Cloud MN. The slopes are almost 1:1. We are using an open cell concrete matt in which we are going to plant native...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize a bank in VT
April 10, 2012 - I am looking for suggestion on what plants might best be suited for aiding in the stabilization of a very steep bank above Lake Champlain.
view the full question and answer

Slope Erosion control for Fairview NC
August 19, 2012 - Please recommend plants to help with soil erosion on a slope. The soil is red clay and area gets full sun. The slope is approximately 12' x 12'. I live in Fairview, NC
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center