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?


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

Tuesday - July 02, 2013

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers
Title: Ground cover for a slope in San Antonio TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Slope growing, no or little irrigation ground cover. The slope is probably greater than 30%. The area is currently a construction road at the base, cut into the hill. To re-establish with a ground cover that would be short enough not to need mowing. Pedestrians walk through the area so a short growth plant for safety. Prefer a bedding plant vs. grass.


It would be helpful to know whether the area is in sun (more than 6 hours of sun a day), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day) or shade (less than 2 hours of sun per day).  Since I don't know the sun situation on the slope, please be sure to read the information on GROWING CONDITIONS on each of the species pages that I recommend.

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena) grows only 6-12 inches tall and has blooms from March through December.

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose) is semi-evergreen and is usually a sprawling plant.

Wedelia texana (Zexmenia) should be evergreen in San Antonio.   It blooms from June through November.

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) is semi-evergreen and usually grows to less than 1 foot.

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) is semi-evergreen and blooms May to October.

You might consider using one of the sedges.  There are species that grow to less than 1 foot high and do well without irrigation after they are established.   Here is more information about sedges from McNeal Growers in Austin.  Here are two that are native to Bexar County:

Carex perdentata (Meadow sedge) grows in sun to about 8 inches high.

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge) grows best in part shade to 6 inches high.

Using a combination of plants is your best bet.  That way you will learn what will grow best on your slope and a mix of heights and colors will make the area more interesting.   Any of the plants above will require irrigation to become established. 



From the Image Gallery

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida

Calyptocarpus vialis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

More Groundcovers Questions

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover in Louisiana
November 17, 2009 - I need a suggestion for an evergreen groundcover plant that can tolerate moist soil. I want something that is low maintenance to go around a pergola in my backyard that gets mostly full sun.
view the full question and answer

Eliminating and replacing Tradescantia species
July 03, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need advice. I recently figured out my 10 month old dog is highly allergic to Tradescantia sp, commonly known as the Spiderworts, and "Wandering Jew" which covers about h...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for a slope from New Carrollton MD
June 27, 2012 - My house (Maryland, near DC) sits at the bottom of a south facing slope. The soil is very heavy clay. The grade is about 1:20 for about 100 feet (with a steeper part at the top). Part of the hill is i...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
April 29, 2013 - 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.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center