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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.

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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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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 - April 25, 2013

From: Manassas, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Erosion Control, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Non-native daylilies for steep hill in Manassas VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Would like to plant steep hill w perennial flowering plants like daylily. The daylily farm said this would work great but not sure if we should lay landscaping fabric and poke through holes to plant daylilys or just plant amongst existing grass growth Don't really want to create additional erosion by removing grass/weeds before replanting. I saw your post about planting grasses but I prefer flowers if possible.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally; in your case, Prince William County, VA. Daylilies, once erroneously placed in the Liliaceae family of plants, now are considered to be in the Hemerocallis family. They are native to Eurasia - China, Japan and Korea - and are therefore out of our line of expertise. From the Univesity of Minnesota Extension Service, here is an article on Growing Daylilies. We understand there are many thousands of cultivars and selections of this plant, perennials which bloom one day, in the nursery trade, but beyond that, we know nothing about them.

However, we can talk about erosion; we don't know specifically which one you read but we have many previous answers on ways to control slopes. We saw a reference to the use of daylilies on a slope to control erosion because the roots reproduced, creating a network of roots which helped to hold soil on a slope, but we can't answer your question about landscaping cloth. Since we have no personal experience with it, we went looking for other information and found this funny article from North Coast Gardening Why I Hate Landscape Cloth. Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on controlling erosion which includes further links to still other previous answers in various spots on the East Coast, including one from Virginia. We still prefer grasses with their long fibrous roots for erosion on a slope, but there are not many flowering plants that will have that sort of root.

 

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