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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - July 03, 2016

From: Baltimore, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Groundcover for Maryland Slope in Deer Country
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a 20-30% grade hill in Maryland. I am looking for a groundcover plant (for example ivy) that I can plant on the hill. I have the following issues: clay soil, deer, full sun, limited water source - rain water, need to prevent hill erosion, and a weed problem - hoping to choke them out with my groundcover plants.

ANSWER:

Your challenges narrowed the list of possibilties significantly! First a look at the Native Plant Database for Maryland plants that grow in full sun and dry conditions (because of the slope) revealed a substantial list of possible groundcover plants that fall into the short shrub or vine category. Then the list was used to check the deer resistant species list and about half of the plants were removed. The end result is below. The vines will perhaps be a better groundcover plant than the shrubs to choke out your existing weeds. You may need to trial some plants in a small area to see which ones work the best for your situation. Good luck!

Some smaller native shrubs for full sun and dry conditions include ...

Symphoricarpos albus (common snowberry)

Rhus trilobata (fragrant sumac)

Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)

Vines for use as possible groundcover plants ...

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper)

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine)

 

From the Image Gallery


Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Black huckleberry
Gaylussacia baccata

Black huckleberry
Gaylussacia baccata

Skunkbush
Rhus trilobata

Common snowberry
Symphoricarpos albus

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