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

Wednesday - October 07, 2009

From: Pembroke, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Native plants for morning sun in Pembroke MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Could you please suggest native groundcover,plants/shrubs/grasses for eastern facing slope which gets morning sun? It is my front yard which slopes down toward driveway so it would be a major focal point. How about any evergreen ground cover? Thanks

ANSWER:

In selecting plants for an area, the exposure (east, north, etc.) is not really as important as the amount of sun the area gets in a day. We regard full sun as 6 or more hours of sun a day, part shade as 2 to 6 hours of sun and shade as less than 2 hours. Pembroke, Plymouth County, is apparently in USDA Hardiness Zones 6a to 6b, with average annual minimum temperatures of -10 to zero deg. F. Obviously, with shorter days and as far north as you are, even the morning sun is going to be less for a while, but you might make a rough sketch of your property with indications of the amount of sunlight  various areas receive.

We are going to go to our Recommended Species section, click on Massachusetts on the map, and then select some herbaceous flowering plants (herbs), shrubs, and grasses, checking each one to make sure it is native to your area of the state. We'll try also to find evergreen low-growing groundcovers. You can repeat this process, putting in the appropriate amount of light, soil moisture and so forth in your searches. We are just going to give you a sample and you can go from there. Incidentally, on a slope, there is no better plant to use than grasses, with their long fibrous roots to hold the soil. These are not going to be mowed lawn type grasses,  but taller, more ornamental grasses. Follow each link to the page on that individual plant to learn projected size, light needs, soil moisture, growth habit, bloom time, etc. We are going to search on "Part Shade" and "Shade" as we feel that's about the best you could hope for in your situation.

Plants for an east-facing slope in Plymouth County, MA:

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) - low, woody groundcover, evergreen, blooms white, pink June to August, part shade or shade

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) - trailing evergreen shrub for groundcover, blooms white, pink March to June, sun, part shade or shade

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed) - perennial, evergreen, blooms yellow April to June, sun, part shade or shade

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) - perennial trailing herb, evergreen groundcover, blooms white, pink or purple May to October

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia) - perennial, deciduous, blooms blue July to October, sun, part shade or shade

Rhododendron maximum (great laurel) - evergreen shrub, 4 to 15 ft., blooms white, pink in June, part shade

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood) - deciduous shrub or small tree, 20 to 30 ft. tall, blooms white May and June, part shade or shade

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint) - perennial grass 3 to 5 ft. tall, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) - perennial grass, part shade or shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Gaultheria procumbens

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Coreopsis lanceolata

Mitchella repens

Lobelia siphilitica

Rhododendron maximum

Cornus alternifolia

Calamagrostis canadensis

Muhlenbergia schreberi

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Seed Habiturf on top of existing St. Augustine from Austin
January 26, 2012 - We don't want to rip up an existing St. Augustine lawn (potential HOA problems), but we'd like to go native grasses (like Habiturf?). Is there anything we can just seed on top of our present lawn a...
view the full question and answer

Meadow garden for Colorado Springs CO
June 03, 2012 - We recently purchased a restored home on a mesa just above the downtown area of Colorado Springs on the front range. The previous owners seeded the front lawn with blue gramma and told me that all I ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to control hillside erosion in Illinois
May 04, 2014 - I have seen some other questions regarding native plants for erosion control, but I am looking specifically for plants that will do well on a hill in partial to full shade. I am told the soil in our a...
view the full question and answer

Central Texas native plants good for cut flowers in Austin
March 15, 2010 - What are the best native plants to Central Texas that can be used as cut flowers for indoors in the home? I have a large garden that will be partly vegetables, partly for cut flowers. Thank you for ...
view the full question and answer

Effect of heavy rains on Lindheimer Muhly
May 04, 2015 - It is April 2015, in San Antonio we've had very heavy rains recently. My Lindheimer muhly, which was looking beautiful, has now turned brown all over. Is this normal or is this a problem?
view the full question and answer

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