En EspaŅol

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
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 Septic Systems Questions

Native plants for septic field in Austin
March 14, 2011 - Do you have guidance for west Austin residents regarding landscaping a septic field with native plants?
view the full question and answer

Appropriate plants for septic field from Raymore MO
September 15, 2011 - Is it practical to plant coneflower, garden phlox, etc. on a septic drain field?
view the full question and answer

Butterfly plants for area over septic system drainfield
July 22, 2010 - I live in Michigan and have purchased a house with a septic system. I hate to mow grass AND to waste all that area over the drain field with mere turf. I also enjoy attracting butterflies. what are...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a septic field in Rogers AR
June 13, 2011 - I live in Rogers Arkansas (northwest corner of the state). My home sits in a holler. My back and side yard is almost totally lateral lines for a septic system. One section of my yard (it's fenced an...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will not clog lateral lines with roots
January 25, 2009 - We recently had to replace the lateral lines for our septic tank because wisteria roots had clogged the drainpipes. The machinery tore up our front and side yard,and we are trying to get them back int...
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