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?


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
Not Yet Rated

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


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?


   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

Asclepias tuberosa

Swamp sunflower
Helianthus angustifolius

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Sources of native grasses and forbs seeds for Hidalgo and Maverick Cos.
October 31, 2003 - I work for TPWD and am working with some irrigation districts in South Texas, trying to get them to plant native grasses and forbs in their ROWs rather than exotic grasses recommended by TxDOT. Can y...
view the full question and answer

Is Cissus trifoliata a food source for wildlife?
November 10, 2008 - We apparently have Cissus Trifoliata growing around and over our porch.I was thinking about trying to remove it and plant grape vines instead as our desert tortoises will eat grape leaves. My question...
view the full question and answer

Where can I find Ilex verticillata in Maryland?
February 24, 2009 - Do you have any suggestions where I might purchase a winterberry holly, ilex verticillata (with bright orange berries in the winter)? They are on our Maryland State highway on Route 3 (301) heading t...
view the full question and answer

Non-native lilacs for wedding bouquet in July in Salt Lake City
May 07, 2010 - My friend's daughter wants to have lilacs in her wedding bouquet, but she is not getting married until July 15th. I realize lilacs are spring flowers, but will there be anywhere in the U.S. that lila...
view the full question and answer

Questions about milkweed seeds
March 28, 2013 - Dear folks, I am trying to locate Nan Hampton from Los Fresnos, Texas who asked about Asclepias texana seeds and other Asclepias seeds on Dec. 10, 2008. I would like to know if she found any and has...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center