En Español

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

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!

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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Euphorbia 'Cherokee' leaves drying from Benson AZ
October 24, 2012 - I have a Euphorbia 'Cherokee' in a pot and has been growing nicely but some of the leaves are turning red and drying up and falling off. Is this normal for this plant?
view the full question and answer

Planting petunias around base of oak tree from Houma LA
March 30, 2013 - I live in south Louisiana and I want to plant petunias. Can I plant petunias around the base of an oak tree?
view the full question and answer

Pictures and information on Scutellaris laterifolia, Blue Skullcap
June 19, 2006 - I am trying to find information on Scutellaria laterifolia (skullcap), of the plant family "labiatea". Do you have any info or pictures? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Plants for hanging flower boxes from Austin
July 27, 2013 - I have two long flower boxes 17" x 15" x 25 feet long one on the north side of the apt and one on the south made of metal suspended about four feet from the ground. One will get the morning sun and ...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting wildflowers slated for destruction in Buda, TX.
June 16, 2015 - TXDOT has recently informed our church that they will be taking a sizeable amount of natural area fronting a ranch road for lane expansion. We are devastated to lose an are we have planted and nurtur...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center