Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Woman's tobacco
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

Asters bloom period
April 16, 2005 - When do the asters bloom?
view the full question and answer

Promoting Monarch Habitats in Texas
July 11, 2016 - My parents have a 6 acre pasture in East, TX with native milkweed in it. What are the best times of year to bush hog to promote more milkweeds & do you know of any grants to help manage land for monar...
view the full question and answer

Should I transplant my bluebonnets from the planter they came into soil in Austin?
April 10, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Since moving to Austin two years ago I have fallen in love with bluebonnets. Last year I purchased seedlings from the Wildflower Center but a taste-first-evaluate-later inquis...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower Seed Planting in Austin in April
April 30, 2015 - What wildflower seeds can I plant in April? Is there a schedule?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for September wedding in Missouri
July 21, 2007 - I am interested in having wildflowers in my wedding in late September. Although the wedding is in the early fall I wanted to have dandelions but I was informed that they are not long lasting enough fo...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.