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
2 ratings

Thursday - August 04, 2011

From: Takoma Park, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers
Title: Ground cover for a slope in MD
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Looking for a groundcover to hold a shady slope undercut with tree roots in Maryland and to prevent further erosion.

ANSWER:

I am unable to visualize the situation you describe as "undercut with tree roots" but if established tree roots are in the equation that means whatever you plant will be competing with them for available water.  Combine that with shady and slope and you have a gardenoing challenge indeed.

In order to determine what plants that are native to Maryland that will survive in those conditions visit our Native Plant Database and do a Combination Search selecting: Maryland, dry/shady conditions and your plant type.  The list that is generated will have links to detailed plant information pages with images.  You will want to search herbs (herbaceous perennials) and grasses for plant type.  You can also try subshrubs or very small shrubs. You will want to select plants that either have fibrous root systems or spread fairly vigorouly via stolons.

You will likely be disappointed by how few choices there are ... I am sure you have already realized that this is a tough place for plants to live.

Here are a few plants form those lists that might be worth a try:

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry)

Viola pedata (Birdfoot violet)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Diervilla lonicera (Northern bush honeysuckle) 

Gaultheria procumbens (Checkerberry)

Hypericum prolificum (Shrubby st. johnswort)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

 

From the Image Gallery


Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Birdfoot violet
Viola pedata

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Northern bush honeysuckle
Diervilla lonicera

Eastern teaberry
Gaultheria procumbens

Shrubby st. john's-wort
Hypericum prolificum

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

More Groundcovers Questions

Plants to grow between concrete pavers on the patio in Rock Hill, SC..
December 31, 2014 - I have a patio of concrete pavers, about 2 feet by 2 feet each. It gets very little sun. No morning sun at all. The zoysia grass we have between the pavers now does not grow well at all. Do you ha...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Lighthouse Point FL
April 13, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I am looking for mowable ground cover for part of my back yard. Due to a Mahogany tree, a hammock, surrounding foliage and a fence, there is alot of shade in the area, alon...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control in Bartlesville OK
May 10, 2012 - What kind of plants can we use to stop erosion and loss of bank on a creek that is mostly shaded? Is there any free advice/plants for people that are losing land due to water levels rising/dropping?
view the full question and answer

Starting over on a lawn in Heath TX
April 02, 2013 - Unless one counts dichondra as grass I have more weeds than grass in my yard.I have hand pulled the weeds and used an organic program without success. The soil is a hard clay typical of North Texas. I...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for shady area in north Texas
July 29, 2013 - I'm looking for a ground cover for a mostly shady area where St. Augustine won't grow. I don't want the ground cover to overtake my established St. Augustine in the rest of the yard. The area is un...
view the full question and answer

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