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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

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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Thursday - September 20, 2012

From: Sturgis, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shrubs, Trees, Vines
Title: Blocking dust from a road in Sturgis MS
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please let me know what Trees/shrubs will help block dust from dirt road.

ANSWER:

Without knowing what your sun/shade or soil moisture situation is, we will give you some general suggestions and then lead you to our Native Plant Database where you can find plants to suit your specific requirements.

First of all, you need to consider the normal rainfall and soil moisture. Any plant newly in the ground is going to need consistent deep moisture for at least the first several months. If it is raining fairly regularly, you can always stick your finger in the soil and see if it is dry to check whether you need to to water. If there is not some source of water within a reasonable distance of the area you wish to plant, you may need to make some alternate plans.

Next, we would suggest primarily shrubs, because if the dust is coming off the road, it would stand to reason that it would be skimming along the ground. The lower the vegetation on the selected plant and the nearer it is to the source of the dust (but not on the shoulder) the better the dust protection will be.

Now, timing. We always recommend that woody plants (trees and shrubs) in the South  be planted between November and February when the plants are dormant and less likely to be damaged. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively. In other words, if a plant grows naturally in Oktibbeha County, the chances are good that the local soils, climate and rainfall will be compatible with that plant.

Finally, where to find the right plants? The list you make up from our Native Plant Database may not contain plants that are necessarily in nearby large commercial nurseries or home improvement stores. Go to our National Suppliers Directory,  type your town and state, or just your zip code, in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and consultants in your general area. All have contact information, so you can find out in advance if they carry the plant you want or can get it for you. Remember, no planting until November!

Now, go to our Native Plant Database. Using the Combination Search and the sidebar on the right hand side of the page, select on Mississippi, shrub under Habit and, if you can, Soil Moisture and the amount of sunlight the plants will get, under Light Requirements. Here are some suggestions we chose, follow each plant link to our wepage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, etc.

We had one other idea on this dust barrier; if you have some kind of fence along your roadside - chain link, barbed wire - just something to support a vine, that would make another evergreen flowering plant between you and the dust.

Evergreen plants for dust barrier in Sturgis MS:

Gordonia lasianthus (Gordonia)

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel)

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine)

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle)

 

From the Image Gallery


Gordonia
Gordonia lasianthus

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Mountain laurel
Kalmia latifolia

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

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