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 - June 29, 2011

From: Brewster, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Low groundcovers for MA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We are developing ground mounted solar installations in southeastern MA. We are seeking advice for native groundcover species for our various regions (coastal meadows, etc). Species like bearberry and low-bush blueberry are typical. Are there others (and perhaps some annuals) that you can recommend? We must keep to less than 24" to avoid shading the panels.

ANSWER:

You will ultimately be limited in your choices by what plants are available in the nurseries in your area, but can begin the process by visiting our Native Plant Database.  If you do a Combination Search selecting All Habits, Sun, Moist or Dry Conditions (depending on your site) and a height of 1-3 feet, it will generate a list of plants that you can consider for your project.  It will give you perennials, annuals, grasses and small shrubs.  You will find Vaccinium angustifolium (Late lowbush blueberry) and Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) on that list.  

Here are some other tough plants native to your area to consider (you will have to verify moisture requirements as we have not selected for that):

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf coreopsis)

Gaylussacia baccata (Black huckleberry)

Hierochloe odorata (Sweetgrass)

Iris versicolor (Harlequin blueflag)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet beebalm)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)

Potentilla arguta (Tall cinquefoil)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve (Smooth blue aster)

Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Lingonberry)

Planting a mixed meadow of plants like these will not interfere with your solar installation but will be attractive and provide wildlife habitat benefits.  That's a win/win!

 

From the Image Gallery


Lowbush blueberry
Vaccinium angustifolium

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Threadleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis verticillata

Mountain laurel
Kalmia latifolia

Black huckleberry
Gaylussacia baccata

Sweetgrass
Hierochloe odorata

Harlequin blueflag
Iris versicolor

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

Tall cinquefoil
Potentilla arguta

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

More Groundcovers Questions

Evergreen groundcover or ornamental grass to plant under tree
November 09, 2007 - What can I plant under my tree as a groundcover? I would like an evergreen groundcover, how about ornamental grasses?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Boston MA
March 12, 2013 - We have a small back yard that gets great sun in spring before the leaves are fully back on the tall trees surrounding the perimeter, and then a lot of shade in summer. We have weird patchy grass and ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering groundcover for Indiana
May 25, 2009 - I live in southern Indiana and am looking for a nice flowering groundcover that will overcome the grass. It is on a hill that is very hard to mow.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for roadside in Elk Rapids MI
July 13, 2010 - Elk Rapids, MI (Lake Michigan, East Grand Traverse Bay) Greetings We are looking for a native ground cover that will cover an area along a roadside, about 100 feet from the Lake Michigan shorelin...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant ground cover for Midlothian, TX
June 17, 2012 - I'm looking for a fast, low ground cover. That is drought tolerant for a large slope.
view the full question and answer

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