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?

Share

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

Sunday - April 28, 2013

From: Des Moines, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs, Vines, Wildflowers
Title: Plants for a Steep, Sunny Slope in Iowa
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I am looking for plants native to Iowa for a steep, sunny slope or groundcover.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: Iowa, Habit – herb (for herbaceous), Duration – perennial, Light requirement – sun, Soil moisture – dry (because of the slope), Size characteristics – 0-1 ft. and 1-3 ft.

Some of the more drought and sun tolerant possibilities that could be used as steep slope plants include:

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) 3 ft., white blooms in summer.

Anaphalis margaritacea (Western pearly everlasting) 1-3 ft., white blooms (good for drying).

Antennaria plantaginifolia (plaintain-leaf pussytoes) to 1 ft., white blooms in early summer.

Apocynum androsaemifolium (spreading dogbane) 2-5 ft. groundcover, small pink flowers in summer. Very aggressive.

Callirhoe invulucrata (winecup) sprawling up to 3 ft. wide, white, pink or purple blooms in late spring/early summer.

Oenothera speciosa (pink evening primrose) 1-2 ft., pinkish-white blooms in early summer. Each flower lasting one day. Goes dormant under severe drought.

Phlox pilosa (downy phlox) 1-2 ft. tall, pale pink to lavender flowers in late spring.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Western pearly everlasting
Anaphalis margaritacea

Plantain-leaf pussytoes
Antennaria plantaginifolia

Spreading dogbane
Apocynum androsaemifolium

Spreading dogbane
Apocynum androsaemifolium

Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Downy phlox
Phlox pilosa

Downy phlox
Phlox pilosa

More Wildflowers Questions

Is purple coneflower native to Colorado?
July 20, 2009 - I have seen the purple cone flower growing wild in Gunnison National Forest in Colorado. Is it a native to that state or has it been brought in?
view the full question and answer

How to make a lawn into a prairie in Arlington, Texas
September 15, 2010 - I am removing lawn grasses in order to start a native prairie meadow. After grass removal, I'll put down 1/2" of compost. I will broadcast wildflower seeds on the compost. If I mulch after broadcas...
view the full question and answer

School Rain Garden in Iowa
January 08, 2013 - Could you recommend plants for a rain garden to be installed on a middle school campus in the Council Bluffs Iowa area???? Many thanks!
view the full question and answer

Plants for wildlife/wildflower sanctuary
September 24, 2008 - We have 17 acres in our sub-development called Durham Park that we would like to convert into some kind of wildlife/wildflower sanctuary. Can you put me on the right track.
view the full question and answer

Native Streambank Plants for SE Pennsylvania
July 18, 2013 - I help manage a nature preserve in southeastern Pennsylvania. Along the stream the banks have been beaten down by a large number of visitors for their educational activities such as stream studies. Th...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center