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

Monday - April 29, 2013

From: Towson, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shrubs, Vines, Wildflowers
Title: Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I need a groundcover for a sunny dry steep slope in Towson, Maryland. The slope goes from the parking lot down to a deck area.

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: Maryland, Habit – vine, Duration – perennial, Light requirement – sun, and Soil moisture – dry (because of the slope).

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

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) woody vine to 50 ft. Showy orange-red, trumpet-shaped blooms in spring. Semi-evergreen.

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) aggressive woody vine to 35 ft. Showy orange-red, trumpet-shaped blooms at the end of the branches throughout the summer.

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet) woody vine to 30 ft. In the fall showy orange capsules split to reveal crimson arils. Deciduous.

Clematis virginiana (Devil’s darning needles) fine-textured vine to 15 ft. A profusion of small white flowers in summer followed by a plume-like feathery achene. Deciduous.

Clitoria mariana (Atlantic pigeonwings) twining vine with lavender-pink pea-like flowers. Deciduous.

Vitis riparia (riverbank grape) deciduous vine, fast growing and long lived. Bluish-black berries relished by wildlife.

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

Artemisia ludoviciana (Louisiana Artemisia) aromatic perennial, 1-2 ft. tall with silver foliage.

Rhus trilobata (skunkbush sumac) low spreading deciduous shrub to 3 ft tall. Yellowish clusters of blooms are followed by bright crimson berries on female plants. Colorful fall foliage.

Rubus trivialis (dewberry) sprawling shrub with white flowers followed by small edible berries.

 

From the Image Gallery


Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Atlantic pigeonwings
Clitoria mariana

Riverbank grape
Vitis riparia

Louisiana artemisia
Artemisia ludoviciana

Louisiana artemisia
Artemisia ludoviciana

Dewberry
Rubus trivialis

Dewberry
Rubus trivialis

More Wildflowers Questions

Plants for the Shade of a Pine Tree in Pittsburg
June 03, 2013 - I live in Pittsburgh, PA. My neighbor has a huge pine tree. Last year everything I planted on that side near the tree died. That part of the yard only gets morning sun, as the tree overshadows it. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Inadvisability of overseeding winter rye with wildflowers
January 15, 2007 - I've recently had such phenomenal success with winter rye seed that I'm looking for a spring wildflower seed mix to dress over the same area -- a thin-soiled and pretty bare open-sun (and sprinkler-...
view the full question and answer

Hardiness of Mexican bush sage in USDA Zone 7
September 25, 2006 - I have a Mexican Sage (salvia). I need to know the care of it especially because it is a gift and the plant is about 5 ft. With the weather and the red clay I don't know if I could plant it or just ...
view the full question and answer

When can native wildflower mix seeds be planted from Rosenberg TX
May 30, 2012 - I received a package of "All Native Wildflower Mix". The package says plant in Spring. Is too late to plant now or should I wait for next March?
view the full question and answer

Grasses and wildflowers for Central Texas
December 29, 2008 - I live between Bastrop and Paige and would like to know native grasses or types of wildflowers I can plant now. thank you
view the full question and answer

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