Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

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

More Groundcovers Questions

Silver ponyfoot becoming invasive in College Station TX
May 08, 2013 - How can I control or get rid of an established Dichondra groundcover? I bought a few plants of D. argentea from your sale a few years ago, and in that time they've done really well in the area I plan...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover for full sun in North Carolina
April 16, 2013 - I have an area that is in full sun and I need to know the best low growing evergreen that possibly flowers to help cover where a ditch/water drainage pipe is below the planting area.
view the full question and answer

Non-vascular moss between flagstones in Mechanicsburg PA
July 11, 2009 - We would like to plant moss between our flagstone. However, the moss will have full sun all day. Can you recommend a moss for Central Pennsylvania near Harrisburg?
view the full question and answer

Native lawn replacement for shady areas in Austin
September 11, 2013 - Our front lawn was totally destroyed this summer during some remodeling construction. I am interested in replacing it with native grasses, but we have several oak trees that keep the area fairly shady...
view the full question and answer

What will grow in red clay in Conroe TX?
April 10, 2011 - We just built a new home and the foundation was poured on red clay which is what my flowerbed area is in. Could you please tell me what can be planted that will grow. I am looking for ground cover, fl...
view the full question and answer

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