En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants for a Septic Field in NC

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - August 14, 2013

From: Marion, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Septic Systems, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Plants for a Septic Field in NC
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

What kinds of low water plants can I plant over a new septic field in North Carolina? The area is part sun so I am concerned about having trouble getting grass started.

ANSWER:

A good place to look for tips about planting on your septic drain field is the Virginia Cooperative Extension website.  Susan Day and Ellen Silva suggest that shallow-rooted herbaceous plants that are not excessively water-loving as the best choices.

Then 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: State – North Carolina, Habit – herb, Duration – perennial, Leaf Retention – deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen, Light Requirement – part shade, Soil Moisture – moist, Size – 0-1 ft. You can narrow down this search further by indicating blooming time and bloom color too if you like.

These search criteria will give you 13 plants to consider (eliminating the non-spreading types). Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list.

Possible choices:
Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)
Galax urceolata (beetleweed)
Glandularia canadensis (rose vervain)
Hexastylis arifolia (littlebrownjug)
Lycopodium digitatum (fan clubmoss)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny spurge)
Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)
Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit)
Sedum ternatum (woodland stonecrop)
Tiarella cordifolia var. collina (heartleaf foamflower)
Uvularia sessilifolia (spreading bellwort)
Viola walteri (Walter’s violet)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Beetleweed
Galax urceolata

Rose vervain
Glandularia canadensis

Little brown jug
Hexastylis arifolia

Fan clubmoss
Lycopodium digitatum

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Allegheny spurge
Pachysandra procumbens

Wild blue phlox
Phlox divaricata

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Woodland stonecrop
Sedum ternatum

Heartleaf foamflower
Tiarella cordifolia var. collina

Spreading bellwort
Uvularia sessilifolia

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Fertilizer amounts for native perennials in Belton, TX
March 18, 2009 - I am a novice gardener and need advice on how to fertilize my native perennials. I would like to use organic fertilizer and need advice on exactly what to use. I have a compost pile but it does not ...
view the full question and answer

Black-eyed Susans in potting soil on ground
November 12, 2010 - I would like to know if black eyed susans can be planted in just potting soil instead of mixing it in with dirt from the ground? I don't want to leave it in the pots. I want to plant it, but the grou...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back achillea in New York
March 18, 2009 - Last summer I planted three gorgeous hearty achillea with flat, yellow tops, about 3 feet high or more each, in my sunny garden. But after they were done flowering, I left those very pretty brown stem...
view the full question and answer

Container plants for part shade in Bee Cave TX
June 18, 2013 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants, I am looking for plants that will thrive on my covered porch in 3 tall planters. These are meant to help me block an unattractive view out my living room window, so they must...
view the full question and answer

Trimming back Texas Star hibiscus in Granbury TX
February 26, 2009 - Can I trim back my Texas Star Hibuscus? And when do I do that?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center