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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

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