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
1 rating

Thursday - April 25, 2013

From: Pittsburgh , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Soils, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for steep slope in Pittsburgh PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a similar question to one from SC. I live in Pittsburgh, PA. We have a steep slope behind a newly built in pool. What type of plants can I put on the hillside to hold the soil. It gets a lot of sun. There is also a lot of rock under the soil. I appreciate your answer.

ANSWER:

We believe this is the previous Mr. Smarty Plants question to which you are referring; we just answered that one a few hours ago so there may be others that you saw, but we understand you are interested in erosion control on a steep hill. The one we linked you to from South Carolina had the problem of a clay soil, which is very difficult to work with, especially for plants that need good drainage for their roots. Since we don't know what your soils are in Allegheny County in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania we will try again to find native plants that are native to your area, counting on the fact that they are native to indicate they will grow in whatever soil, climate and rainfall you have.

We will go to our Native Plant Database, scrolling down to our Combination Search. Then we will select on Pennsylvania for State, run 3 different searches, one on grasses and grasslike plants, one on shrubs and one on herbs (herbaceous blooming plants). For each search we will indicate "sun" under light requirement.  The grasses, of course, are our preference because their long fibrous roots will help to hold the soil, but there are also shrubs and flowering plants that will help the looks of the hillside. These grasses will all be taller native grasses, not lawn grasses, as you would obviously prefer not to mow a hillside. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn growing conditions, moisture needed and best propagation practices. You may, of course, rerun these searches making different specifications and your own choices.

Grasses for Allegheny County, PA:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Shrubs for Allegheny Co., PA:

Amelanchier stolonifera (Running serviceberry)

Hibiscus moscheutos (Crimsoneyed rosemallow)

Rosa blanda (Smooth rose)

Symphoricarpos albus (Common snowberry)

Herbaceous Blooming Plants for Allegheny Co., PA:

Agalinis purpurea (Purple false foxglove)

Antennaria plantaginifolia (Plantain-leaf pussytoes)

Aruncus dioicus (Bride's feathers)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Running serviceberry
Amelanchier stolonifera

Crimson-eyed rose-mallow
Hibiscus moscheutos

Smooth rose
Rosa blanda

Common snowberry
Symphoricarpos albus

Purple false foxglove
Agalinis purpurea

Woman's tobacco
Antennaria plantaginifolia

Bride's feathers
Aruncus dioicus

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Purchase of Galphimia angustifolia from Austin
June 08, 2014 - I have a Thryallis, Galphimia augustifolia, or Thryallis autustifolia, growing from a limestone ledge in my yard in west Austin TX. I have tried unsuccessfully to buy this native. Do you sell it at t...
view the full question and answer

Winter care of Asclepias tuberosa from Austin
October 31, 2013 - We have several asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed). Monarch caterpillars have found and denuded them. We are excited about all of the Monarch caterpillars, but unsure of what to do next. What do we...
view the full question and answer

Plants for red clay in Hattiesburg, MS
May 16, 2011 - Looking for plants and flowers to plant in red clay?
view the full question and answer

Pruning Lyreleaf Sage from McAllen TX
April 14, 2013 - I planted a few Lyre Leaf Sage last year and they bloomed beautifully. I let them seed out and had a number of new plants show up this year. I have never cut the flower/seed stalks back and now that ...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant native plants for Eagle Scout project in Urbandale IA
April 27, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My son is planning his Eagle Scout Project doing some landscaping for the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary. The facility has asked him to use only plants native to Iowa. Can you su...
view the full question and answer

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