Contact Us Host an Event 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
2 ratings

Tuesday - May 05, 2009

From: Tully, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Groundcover to reduce erosion for shady area in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live on a lake with gravelly and clay soils, lots of wind and little sun. I am looking for a native ground cover that will help reduce erosion over some of the steep slopes facing south (under shade trees)

ANSWER:

Grasses are ideal for controlling erosion on steep slopes because they develop extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil.  Most grasses do best in sun or partial shade. Your lack of sun limits the choice for grasses and grass-like plants (sedges), but there are a few possibilities.  I have also recommended some low growing shrubs and ferns that will tolerate clay soils.  All of the plants have been recorded in, or adjacent to, Onondaga County, New York:

GRASS/GRASS-LIKE:

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex plantaginea (plantainleaf sedge)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

SMALL SHRUBS:

Chimaphila maculata (striped prince's pine)

Rubus pubescens (dwarf red blackberry)

Vaccinium pallidum (Blue Ridge blueberry) and photos

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)

Gaultheria hispidula (creeping snowberry) and photos

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Vaccinium oxycoccos (small cranberry)

PERENNIAL HERB:

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum (feathery false lily of the valley)

FERNS:

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)



Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Carex plantaginea

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Chimaphila maculata

Rubus pubescens

 


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Ceanothus americanus

Epigaea repens

Gaultheria procumbens

Hypericum prolificum

Vaccinium oxycoccos

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum

Pteridium aquilinum

Osmunda cinnamomea
 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Non-blooming crape myrtle in Italy, TX
June 25, 2008 - It's Italy, TX, again! Thanks for the advice and links, and I'll study those..but here's where I'm stumped on crape myrtle. I have two (almost) trees because they've been planted over 15 years ...
view the full question and answer

Green roof plants tolerating shade
July 01, 2006 - I am researching extensive greenroof plants for a potential site in Austin. The roof surface is shaded for most days of the the year. Are there any top choices for plants for this condition?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for high canal bank in Florida
May 27, 2009 - My home is on a canal to a natural lake in Central Florida (Orlando area). I am wondering if there is a wildflower that I can grow on a 3' high canal bank that is mostly shady.
view the full question and answer

Saving or transplanting stand of white trillium that has lost shade
May 29, 2006 - We have a generous stand of white trillium that has been under the shade of a white oak for many years. Now the 100+ year old oak has died and the trilliums are in the sun. Are we in danger of losin...
view the full question and answer

Native moss to fill in between flagstones
April 21, 2008 - I live in Houston and have a long, narrow flagstone path that runs along the east side of the house. I am looking for a native moss that can fill in between the flagstones and will tolerate morning su...
view the full question and answer

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