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

Tuesday - April 16, 2013

From: Statesville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Evergreen groundcover for full sun in North Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have an area that is in full sun and I need to know the best low growing evergreen that possibly flowers to help cover where a ditch/water drainage pipe is below the planting area.


From your description I can't tell if the area is moist or sometimes flooded by water in the ditch below if there is rain, so I am recommending some plants that like moist soils and some that will grow in drier soils. You should carefully read the GROWING CONDITIONS section on the species page of each of the plants I am suggesting to see if they match your site.

Antennaria plantaginifolia (Plantain-leaf pussytoes)  Here are more photos and information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Asclepias humistrata (Pinewoods milkweed)  All Asclepias species are hosts to monarch butterfly larvae.  Here is more information for MonarchWatch.org.

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge) doesn't have showy blooms but it makes a very nice groundcover in sun, part shade and shade.  Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers.

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis) flowers in March, April and May.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Dryopteris cristata (Crested woodfern) doesn't flower, but is one of the few ferns that do well in full sun.  Here are more photos and information from Connecticut Botanical Society.

Phlox subulata (Creeping phlox)  Here are more photos and information from North Carolina State University.

Sibbaldiopsis tridentata (Shrubby fivefingers) Here is more from the New England Wild Flower Society.

Sisyrinchium minus (Dwarf blue-eyed grass)

Packera aurea (Golden ragwort)  Here are more photos and information from Connecticut Botanical Society.

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage)  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Phlox carolina (Carolina phlox)  Here are photos and more information from Alabama Plants.

Equisetum hyemale (Canuela)  If the area stays wet, then this plant would grow nicely there.  It has no flowers, but an interesting texture.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.


From the Image Gallery

Plantain-leaf pussytoes
Antennaria plantaginifolia

Pinewoods milkweed
Asclepias humistrata

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Crested woodfern
Dryopteris cristata

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Shrubby five-fingers
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata

Dwarf blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium minus

Golden groundsel
Packera aurea

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Carolina phlox
Phlox carolina

Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcover for Road Frontage in NC
March 12, 2015 - I need a fast growing ground cover or perennial flower for 1,000 feet of road frontage about one acre that will choke out weeds. I do not want to do much ground prep or any ground prep. I do not want...
view the full question and answer

Native turf grass for acreage in Denison TX
January 27, 2014 - I have recently moved to Denison TX where we have 5+ acres of true crosstimbers land. I am looking for a native turf grass that will do well in sandy soil and with the water provided by nature. The m...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for heavily traveled walkway from Redondo Beach CA
April 23, 2013 - I am looking for a drought resistant ground cover that you can walk on. I live on a south facing, sunny corner lot, 2 blocks from the beach where people park and need to cross over to get to the sidew...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
April 29, 2013 - I need a groundcover for a sunny dry steep slope in Towson, Maryland. The slope goes from the parking lot down to a deck area.
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for Kingsland TX
October 11, 2012 - I am looking for a list of native ground covers and grasses(not lawn grass).
view the full question and answer

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