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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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Friday - August 24, 2012

From: Murphy, NC
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Groundcovers, Wildflowers
Title: Wildflowers for Murphy NC Clay
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I live on a ridge in Murphy NC. The property has trees so most of the land is in partial shade. The soil is good 'ole mountain red clay. I have some steep bankings in front of the house that I would like to grow wildflowers. Any advice as to what would work in clay soil and where would I obtain the plants?

ANSWER:

   Sure, I found a couple answers that come pretty close to this that Mr Smarty Plants has already addressed.   This one is really close as it concerns a shaded bank near Charlotte

  I also like to scan native plants that might add for this specific situation in addition to those suggested previously.  Here is a link to the North Carolina Collection.  This can be searched for specific attributes such as partial shade and height.  After that, I read the records to see whether it was speccifically mentioned that they do well in clay.  You didn't mention whether the banks are relatively wet or dry soil.  I noticed only a few that mention dry clay as a good soil!

Here is a selection of wildflowers that specifically mention that they do well in clay and should help anchor the slope while also adding some seasonal color:

Dry:   Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis), Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm), Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Moist:   Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed), Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower)Asclepias incarnata (Swamp milkweed)Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp sunflower)Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)Lobelia siphilitica (Great blue lobelia)Phlox divaricata (Wild blue phlox)

   Where could you obtain the plants?  My first option would be to check out the suppliers in North Carolina that support the Wildflower Center.  Here is my search centered around Murphy NC.  I notice that several seed companies listed are 100% native!

 

From the Image Gallery


Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Lemon beebalm
Monarda citriodora

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Swamp sunflower
Helianthus angustifolius

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

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