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

Wednesday - September 04, 2013

From: St. Paul, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Vines
Title: Riverbank Plants for Minnesota
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I would like to stablize a steep riverbank slope along the Upper Mississippi in St. Cloud MN. The slopes are almost 1:1. We are using an open cell concrete matt in which we are going to plant native grasses, forbes and vines. We would like to use plants native to the riverbluffs in the region. Any ideas? Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

As you are using the open cell concrete mat to stabilize the slope, we don’t necessarily need to recommend the usual stabilization of the slope with plants that form clumps and/or have extended root systems.  Of course, this is still a useful aspect for your application

Mr Smarty Plants makes recommendations out of the Wildflower Centers “Recommended Species” lists, this time the one for Minnesota.
There turns out to be plenty of native plants [130] that might be found in the “Wet or Moist” soil of a riverbank.  So I further restricted the plants listed here to ones that are shorter and/or are perennial; happily, many of these also have extended root systems that will further stabilize the ground.  You may want to consider:

Grasses or Grasslike [11 candidates]: Calamagrostis canadensis (Bluejoint), Carex stipata (Awlfruit sedge), Spartina pectinata (Prairie cordgrass), Allium canadense (Meadow garlic)Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem), Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama),  

Forbs [64 candidates]: Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood)Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches), Hydrophyllum virginianum (Eastern waterleaf), Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry),

Vines : Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

 This is just a sampling of the native plants available that should be successfull. As there are many possibilities, you may want to review the plant records of these suggestions and/or go back to the restricted list of Recommended Species for Minnesota and make a selection based more on your knowledge of the riverbank and its characteristics.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bluejoint
Calamagrostis canadensis

Prairie cordgrass
Spartina pectinata

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

Virginia waterleaf
Hydrophyllum virginianum

American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Controlling erosion in Leburn KY
July 21, 2009 - I would really appreciate advice on controlling a serious erosion problem in eastern Kentucky. The slope is north facing, shady and moist with rich soil. Would prefer to use native Kentucky plants. ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants to retain slope in Salisbury, CT
April 25, 2009 - We want to plant a newly dug out slope with native plants that will retain the dirt. It is sun to part sun near a lake summer cottage. Thanks!!!
view the full question and answer

Shade grasses for central Texas
November 16, 2014 - We are new to the area and bought a home this summer that has lots of shade in the very small backyard. The problem is that there was new sod laid in the backyard which now is 50% dead. We do not kno...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a bioswale in Baltimore
July 22, 2009 - What native plants would suit a bioswale in an urban part of Baltimore City? The clay soil gets waterlogged and the site has part shade.
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize a steep slope in east Texas
November 09, 2009 - We have a very steep dirt dam in Winnsboro TX, full sun, and burmuda and rye grasses have not been enough to keep from having some mud sliding. We keep adding clay and reworking but want to preserve t...
view the full question and answer

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