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

Monday - February 04, 2013

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Groundcovers, Vines
Title: Groundcover for vineyard from Round Rock, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I will be planting a vineyard in the Hill Country next spring. I am looking to maintain low-growing understory plants across the entire vineyard to maintain soil health, choosing plants that the leaf hopper does not like. Could you guys give me a list of plants that would meet these criteria?


Not being entomologists, first we had to figure out what leafhoppers were. So, we went to the Internet and found the following reference material, for all the good it did us. We say that, because the gist of the information we got was that they eat EVERYTHING!

Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Leafhopper

Extension Office for Williamson County

Texas A&M Central Texas Gardening Got Questions? Follow this link and you can directly contact someone for entomology help. If we can't find plants that can ignore the leafhoppers, then we have to come at it from a different direction: Controlling the leafhoppers.

So, then we tried to narrow it down and searched on "leafhoppers in Central Texas" and found this article from Ecosystems on Key to Leafhoppers  and Sharpshooters. From that article:"

"The following is a key to the leafhopper and sharpshooters (Cicadellidae) captured in and around grape vineyards in north and central Texas. During the growing season of 1997, a total of 47 different species were captured. It is very likely that other species were present but were not captured and therefore are not represented in this key."

Still no information on what might be invulnerable to these little beasties, including the grapevines,  so maybe we should just list some good groundcovers for that area, and if you figure out a control for leafhopper on grapevines, it should work on the groundcover leafhopper, too.

We would like to note that all of the references we looked at on the control of leafhoppers involved keeping the aisles around the grapevine cleaned of vegetative matter, especially in the winter, because the bugs can winter over there and come on stronger than ever in the spring. Of course, if you don't plant anything, there will be weeds coming up anyway, so we might suggest you consider a mulch ground cover.  It shouldn't harbor insects, makes a good walkway and will at least inhibit weeds. Please read our How-To Article Under Cover with Mulch to help you in that decision.

On to plant selection. We suggest you use this list of plants native to the Edwards Plateau as they will come closer to being adapted to your soils and climate than any other list we found. These plants are all also in our Native Plant Database, but you don't have to make so many selections about soils, water, etc. We restricted our search to height of 0-1 ft, in all habits, and selected "part shade" for Light Requirements.

Dichondra argentea (Silver ponyfoot)

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena)

Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot daisy)

Pectis angustifolia (Limoncillo)

Nemophila phacelioides (Baby blue-eyes)

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

Salvia roemeriana (Cedar sage)

Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet)

Ruellia nudiflora (Violet ruellia)

Ruellia drummondiana (Drummond's ruellia)

If you have difficulty locating the native groundcovers that you want, go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zipcode in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and consultants in your general area. They all have contact information so you can check first to see if they stock what you are looking for.


From the Image Gallery

Silver ponyfoot
Dichondra argentea

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Blackfoot daisy
Melampodium leucanthum

Pectis angustifolia

Texas baby blue eyes
Nemophila phacelioides

Calyptocarpus vialis

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Cedar sage
Salvia roemeriana

Missouri violet
Viola missouriensis

Violet ruellia
Ruellia nudiflora

Drummond's ruellia
Ruellia drummondiana

More Pests Questions

Black walnut herbivory
June 13, 2005 - We moved to Texas just about a year ago and have loved it here. This past January we visited the Wildflower Center and obtained some black walnut seeds. Up until last night the tree was doing well p...
view the full question and answer

Control of borers attacking Prunus serotina
August 30, 2006 - Where can I find information to control borers that seem to attack only Prunus serotina v. exemia?
view the full question and answer

Swarming insects on non-native willow in Washington PA
September 25, 2011 - I have had a very large, beautiful pillow willow bush/tree growing next to our garage for about 8 years. Last year at the end of August, it began to attract white-faced hornets and yellow jackets by t...
view the full question and answer

Round green seed pods are likely leaf galls
May 31, 2013 - While walking on a tree-lined dirt road after a mid-May storm, I noticed several seed pods but could not locate the plant they fell off of. The pods were round, light green and looked like large round...
view the full question and answer

Something eating cannas in Austin
July 14, 2012 - What is eating my cannas?
view the full question and answer

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