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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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Monday - March 01, 2010

From: Hillsdale, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a sunny, dry slope in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Looking for plants, native to area, that are quick growing to a height of approximately 6" to 12" for a steep slope comprised of shale in a sunny location.

ANSWER:

You don't give a lot of detail about your project; whether you are hoping to create a "garden" in this area or to simply plant functional plants that will survive and prevent erosion.  I'm assuming that when you say a slope comprised of shale, that you do have some topsoil, and that you are not looking for "rock garden" plants.

Grasses, with their fibrous root systems, are the surest solution to this challenge, but there are perennials (especially those that spread readily) that should do fine in this environment.

Your plant choices will ultimately be limited by what is available in the nurseries in your area but you can begin the selection process by visiting our Plant Database and doing a Combination Search.  First select New York and then sunny and dry conditions and then you can select grasses and herbs (perennials) to generate plant lists.  When you click on the link for the plants that look interesting, you will be taken to the plant information page (which can also take you to a Google search or lead you to possible sources for the plant). If you decide to go bigger, and you have the soil depth, you can also find shrubs that will work.

Here are some we think may work for you:

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)

Perennials

These will add some interest and give a bit of a sense of a meadow.  They are all tough.

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

 

From the Image Gallery


Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Prairie dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

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