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

Monday - May 14, 2007

From: Sonora, CA
Region: California
Topic: Groundcovers, Ferns, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Understory plants for Tuolumne Co., CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My driveway is lined with purple plum trees. I would like to grow something underneath them. What can I grow that will not harm the root system/health of the trees?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants isn't sure whether you want a groundcover, wildflowers or shrubs; but here are a variety of plants that are native to Tuolumne County California, should work well in your area and should not harm your plum trees. The only harm that could come to your plums by planting beneath them is the actual act of digging the holes which will disturb the roots. Try not to cut major roots (those thicker than your thumb) in the process of underplanting your trees.

Grasses

Festuca idahoensis (Idaho fescue)

Ferns

Pellaea mucronata (birdfoot cliffbrake) or Polystichum imbricans (narrowleaf swordfern)

Groundcover Plants (<1 ft.)

Fragaria vesca (woodland strawberry) or Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Dudleya cymosa (canyon liveforever)

Sedum lanceolatum (spearleaf stonecrop)

Eriogonum ovalifolium (cushion buckwheat)

Perennials (>1 ft.)

Eriogonum umbellatum (sulphur-flower buckwheat) or Eriogonum wrightii (bastardsage)

Lupinus albifrons (silver lupine), Lupinus bicolor (miniature lupine), Lupinus grayi (Sierra lupine) or Lupinus latifolius (broadleaf lupine)

Mentha arvensis (wild mint)

Penstemon davidsonii (Davidson's penstemon), Penstemon newberryi (mountain pride) or Penstemon rostriflorus (Bridge penstemon)


Fragaria virginiana

Dudleya cymosa

Sedum lanceolatum

Eriogonum ovalifolium

Eriogonum umbellatum

Lupinus albifrons

Mentha arvensis

Penstemon davidsonii

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Reducing Allergens in Yards and Gardens
January 31, 2012 - What are some allergen-free native plants to Central Texas that thrive in the soil and can survive in the weather?
view the full question and answer

Source for silver ponyfoot from Temple TX
March 19, 2013 - Where can I purchase dichondra argentea -- I live in Bell Co. but am willing to come to Austin if need be. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Orange County, Florida
April 14, 2012 - I live in Central FL (Winter Park)and I have a small, mostly sunny (no trees) backyard next to a large in-ground swimming pool which fills up with the leaves of my neighbor's oak trees. The backyard ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover and Butterfly attractants for LaRue Texas
May 02, 2012 - LaRue, TX - Would like a native low growing plant as a groundcover. I would like it for six+ hours of sun, drought tolerant, and ones that butterflies might enjoy, while deer won't. Some winter int...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for groundcover in Bossier, LA
February 18, 2009 - What kind of ground cover can I plant on a slope that gets full sun?
view the full question and answer

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