En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 Soils Questions

Using cedar chips as mulch in Wimberley, TX
August 19, 2010 - In TX Hlll Country there is an abundance of wood chips, usually "cedar", which I have used as plant mulch. Since wood chips extract nitrogen to decay, do you consider chips a poor choice as plant m...
view the full question and answer

Coffee grounds as mulch into vegetable beds
February 05, 2009 - Can you put too much coffee grounds as mulch into vegetable beds?
view the full question and answer

Should shredded Ashe juniper be composted for mulch?
May 06, 2009 - Our neighbor shredded some Texas Hill Country cedar trees. Can we use it safely as mulch? Do we need to wait until it composts some?
view the full question and answer

Asphalt beneath surface of soil in Austin
June 03, 2013 - About 3-4 inches below the surface of our yard is what appears to be asphalt. It comes out in chunks a few inches across and it's all about 1.5 inches thick. I have no idea what it is; my best guess ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of one Desert Willow in Phoenix AZ
September 06, 2013 - We planted 4 desert willow trees in the summer and 3 of the 4 are doing excellent, however the last one is not not doing so well, it was the smallest of all and it started out fine but its leaves bega...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center