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?

Share

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
1 rating

Monday - July 09, 2012

From: Sheboygan, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Soils, Groundcovers
Title: Wisconsin Ground Cover for Acid Soil
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

What type of native wisconsin ground cover plants do best on acidic bare areas under pine trees such as blue spruce?...and where is best source for these plants or seeds? Thanks so much for your help

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants has memories of chasing an errant golf ball under a beautiful blue spruce that had branches extending to the ground and finding the area inside devoid of life, just needles!   Be sure that if you are trying to encourage a ground cover that the tree is raised a bit so that there is a reasonable amount of sunlight available!

It looks like you have a good number of choices of low plants.  We have a collection of native Wisconsin plants, and this collection is searchable.   I chose plants listed as 0-1 ft. tall and then read the plant record [under “Growing Conditions”] for acidic soil.  14 plants were returned by the search and most of them tolerated acidic or circumneutral soil. 

These five species have a decent groundcover aspect and react well to acidic soil:
Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)
Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood)
Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry)
Uvularia sessilifolia (Spreading bellwort)
Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet)

  Whats the best source?   That’s a bit hard to determine from Texas!  I’d encourage you to investigate Wildflower Center Associates and, once again, you can search that list for those close to Sheboygan.   I found  Rolling Acres Natural Landscape and Kettle Moraine Natural Landscaping at the top of that list.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a publication  "Wisconsin Native Plant Sources" that seems ready made for this question. Other more local good information sources include the Botanical Club of Wisconsin and the Sheboygan County Univ. of Wisconsin Extension Office.

 

From the Image Gallery


Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Spreading bellwort
Uvularia sessilifolia

Spreading bellwort
Uvularia sessilifolia

Birdfoot violet
Viola pedata

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Source for non-native white Mexican petunias in Panama City, FL
June 23, 2009 - I'm looking for tall white Mexican Petunias. Can you please tell me where I can get some?
view the full question and answer

Availability of Texas Frogfruit
June 22, 2012 - Are there any nursery suppliers that supply Texas frogfruit?
view the full question and answer

Source for Dryopteris Filix-max Rhizomes in East Hanover NJ
June 15, 2009 - We are in search for 100kg Dryopteris Filix-mas (Male Fern) Rhizomes to extract oil Kindly send your offer
view the full question and answer

Source for Dioscorea floribunda or D. villosa
June 21, 2009 - Can you furnish me with a source for growing my own Dioscorea floribunda, or , Dioscorea villosa?? Many thanks.
view the full question and answer

Searching for Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana (copperleaf)
April 06, 2015 - Some species of Acalypha are natives, but the one I'm looking for is Copper Plant or Acalypha amentacea/wilkesiana. Can you give me a source where I can order seed? When I was kid working at a local ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center