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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.

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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.

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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.

 
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Wednesday - June 06, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Need native plant to stabilize 45 degree slope in Houston, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Can you recommend a native TX plant to be used to stabilize a 45 degree slope in the Houston area? Durability, maintenance and appearance should be considered. Thank You.

ANSWER:

Two questions that Mr. Smarty Plants would have are; what is growing there now? ; and what kind of soil are we talking about?
Generally, we recommend grasses and grass-like plants for slope stabilization. To look at some possibilities, lets go to the Native Plant Database  and use the  Combination Search option. Select Texas under State, grass/grass-like under General Appearance, and perennial under Lifespan. Check  sun under Light Requirement, and dry under Soil Moisture. Click the Submit Combination Search button and you get 57 species that meet these criteria. Clicking on the scientific name of each species will bring up its NPIN page that contains the characteristics of the plant, its growth requirements and, in most cases, photos. As you go through the list, look for  plants that match your growing conditions.

Here are some possibilities
Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)  

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)   

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) 

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) 

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)   a sedge

A 45 degree slope seems pretty formidable. You might consider consulting a landscape architect to see if some sort of terracing  should be incorporated into the project.

Native American Seed Coompany in Junction has seed mixes for various apllications, and their "Dam Slope mix" might be of interest to you. They also have a lot of information about planting seeds.

Another source of help and information is the Harris County office of Texas Agrilife Extension.






 

From the Image Gallery


Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

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