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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.

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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.

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Sunday - October 04, 2015

From: Youngstown, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Laws, Seeds and Seeding, Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Low, Easy Care Perennials for Lake Ontario Shore Planting
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I'm on Lake Ontario in New York. I have a lake bank slope, thatís about 1/8 mile long and about 40 feet high, and is on about a 40 degree angle. It is very hard to keep clear. The bank has just been cleared just about down to the soil. I would like to plant or maybe hydroseed some type of low growth plant, grass or anything. I am looking for some suggestions. What about crown vetch? Something relatively easy to plant due to the terrain, and that stays only a couple feet tall to preserve the view of the lake would be ideal.

ANSWER:

Any wildflower that can be grown from seed can apparently be sown by hydroseeding - suggests some information on the internet. This also includes hydroseeding the non-native groundcover called crown vetch (Securigera varia). 

A mixture of native grasses and wildflowers that call New York home would be an excellent way to restore your Lake Ontario shoreline to its original plant diversity.   Before you contract with a hydroseeder or order your seeds though, take a look at the discussion about plant genetics and ecotypes on the www.wildflower.org website so you can ask them some important questions about their seed sources.

To obtain a preliminary list of plants for New York State, visit the Special Collections webpage and select New York then narrow the list by selecting 0-3 feet in height from the left categories. This will give you about 40 plants to investigate for your project.

Some tough native plants to consider are:

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed)

Anaphalis margaritacea (Western pearly everlasting)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Monarda fistulosa (wild beebalm)

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)

Phlox subulata (creeping phlox)

And for an extensive list of native grasses for New York, visit the Native Plant Database and select New York, Grass/Grass-like, Perennial, and 0-3 feet tall.

Some native grasses to consider are:

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Distichlis spicata (saltgrass)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Western pearly everlasting
Anaphalis margaritacea

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Hairy grama
Bouteloua hirsuta

Saltgrass
Distichlis spicata

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