Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

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

Thursday - October 02, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for drainage ditch in Bastrop
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

A friend in Bastrop has a drainage ditch in front where she'd like to use a groundcover. Normally it's very dry, but when it rains, can have 1-2" of water. Gets mostly sun. I was wondering about straggler daisy. I looked at your Native Plant Base but the dry/drown issue complicates things. Any ideas for groundcovers and/or would straggler daisy work? Many thanks!

ANSWER:

We really don't think that finding a plant or plants that will tolerate being dry and then drowning is necessarily the issue here. In reality, a drainage ditch, especially in this part of Texas, is dry most of the time. What you need is something to hold the soil while water rushes over it, and also capable of resisting being uprooted itself. The principle of a drainage ditch is that it's going to drain. If we ever have a flood severe enough that water is going to be backed up and standing in that drainage ditch for an extended period, we have worse problems than what happens to the groundcover in the ditch. Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) would certainly work as a low, full sun groundcover. Whether its roots would hang on when the water starts to rush through, we can't say, but we're pretty sure it would survive.

Native grasses are another option that will give some year-round presence, attractive on their own, and certainly with fibrous roots that will hold the soil and preserve the plant itself. We are going to list some of our particular favorites, or you might choose to order online special grass mixes from Native American Seed. They provide ways to decide how much you need and instructions. The mixes we thought would best serve your purposes are Drainfield Mix and Prairie Starter Mix. All of the grasses we are listing can be propagated by seed, and Fall is the best time, but they can also be propagated, after you get some started, by division of clumps.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Andropogon gerardii

Andropogon glomeratus

Bouteloua curtipendula

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Narrow strip of groundcover from Sonora TX
April 29, 2013 - I have an area that is right under my patio about 12 feet by 1 ft. I'm looking for something to plant in there. It has afternoon sun, morning shade. I live in SW Texas so it is hot. but would like so...
view the full question and answer

Removal of bramble under live oaks and replacing with groundcover
September 26, 2007 - We have several large live oaks on the front of our 12 acre property in Hockley, Texas. Under and around each oak is an extensive amount of bramble which we would like to remove so that we can enjoy ...
view the full question and answer

Bare feet-friendly native groundcovers for New York
April 14, 2005 - We own land at elevation 1600', near Sherburn, NY. We want to walk barefoot around the tipi area, but don't want to plant grass (mowing grass). What native ground cover would be kind to bare feet ...
view the full question and answer

Low-growing plants for a slope in the shade
July 08, 2013 - Hello, I'm looking for native plants to put in the shade (within the drip-line) of a well-established American Holly. The area gets deep shade; it is also on a very gentle north-exposure slope. We ...
view the full question and answer

Need ground cover plants to grow in the shade a large oak in San Antonio, TX
March 09, 2015 - We have a large backyard in San Antonio covered with live oak and red oak. Since grass does not do well in this shade / bright shade area I would like to plant a low growing ground cover and then add...
view the full question and answer

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