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Wednesday - July 06, 2016

From: Bessemer, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Drought Tolerant, Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant
Title: Plants Needed for a Shaded, Rocky Slope in Alabama
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in Alabama where the soil is clay and rocky. I've tried planting on a rocky slope I have but, it's also shaded. Not even Juniper will survive on this slope. I've spent thousands of dollars trying to make this area presentable to no avail. And my fixed income just can't handle it anymore. The borders of this area do have some sunlight. Prickly weeds seem to be doing well. I have pictures. :-( I want: Blooms! Maybe something that holds the clay soil but spreads like a groundcover, flowering at different times of year, drought tolerant, some green all year, plant now. Must hate sun.

ANSWER:

Sorry for the delay in sending this response! Also, sorry about the challenges to your gardening on a rocky, clay slope in the shade (and for the thistles that have moved in and settled in the area). You really do have a significant challenge with this site. Dry + shade is one of the most challenging. But do not worry, there are some native plants that you can try.

A search of the Native Plants Database on our website at www.wildflower.org/plants/ set to the criteria of Alabama, herb, perennial, shade, dry and 0-1 feet does reveal 14 plants. Some aren't suitable to grow as groundcovers. The remaining ones are:

Horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis) This shade tolerant groundcover has tiny, yellow daisy flowers and will go dormant during cold winters. It is evergreen in mild areas. Try to keep heavy mats of fallen leaves off the plants. Mow if desired. May need a little extra water to look its best during extended droughts.

White troutlily (Erythronium albidum) A low plant with mottled leaves that makes an attractive groundcover. White blooms in the spring. Plants multiply rapidly by root offshoots and seed, but can require up to 6 years before blooming.

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) A trailing evergreen perennial with white, fragrant flowers in pairs. No taller than 2 inches tall, partridgeberry makes an attractive woodland creeper.

Common cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex) A low growing perennial with flowers and leaves arising from runners on separate stalks. Runners are 6-20 inches long. Has five-parted leaves and five-petaled, yellow flowers.

And if you want to use a vine as a groundcover and forgo the blooms, you might consider these:

American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

Saw greenbrier (Smilax bon-nox) (beware of the thorns on this plant)

Fox grape (Vitis labrusca)

 

From the Image Gallery


Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

White troutlily
Erythronium albidum

White troutlily
Erythronium albidum

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Common cinquefoil
Potentilla simplex

American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

Sawbriar
Smilax bona-nox

Sawbriar
Smilax bona-nox

Fox grape
Vitis labrusca

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