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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 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!

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Sunday - June 17, 2012

From: Midlothian , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Drought tolerant ground cover for Midlothian, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a fast, low ground cover. That is drought tolerant for a large slope.

ANSWER:

You didn’t mention how large a “large slope” is so we’ll start big and scale down from there. We have three articles on our “How To” page that deal with large scale plantings of native plants. This might be more than you had in mind, but there is some good information that you may find useful.

The first article, Recreating a Prairie gives the ends and outs of prairie restoration that is going on around the state.

The second article, Meadow Gardening describes the procedures for establishing a wildflower meadow in an open, sunny, well-drained area.

The third article, Getting Started gives tips for organizing such daunting undertakings.

For help with plant selection, go to our 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, dry under Soil Moisture, and 0-1” under Height. Click the Submit Combination Search button and you get 14 species that meet these criteria. Repeat the search, and check 1-3’ under Height and your list increases to 24. 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.

Repeat the search one more time, and select herb under General Appearance and 0-1’ under Height, leaving your other choices the same. Click the Submit combination Search button and you will get a list of 46 species of flowering plants that can add some color to your slope.

Native American Seed has a number of different seed mixes that can be used in the situation you describe. You can find other seed sources by consulting our National Suppliers Directory.

Another place where you can get help is the Ellis County office of Texas AgriLife Extension.

 

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