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

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

Groundcover or grass for Panama City, Florida
April 19, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants I live in Panama City Florida and am having great difficulty growing a lawn. I would prefer no lawn as grass, it seems a pointless use of resources but my husband requires gr...
view the full question and answer

Oxalis drummondii as ground cover
May 11, 2007 - We live in Austin, Texas. A sunny, dry swath of grass (originally St. Augustine) has been invaded by pink wood-sorrel (a large-leafed, mounding kind). I love the wood-sorrel, and would like to use it ...
view the full question and answer

Controlling slugs in a Pacific Northwest strawberry patch
February 04, 2013 - Would love to plant various varieties of strawberries on a bank for erosion control and ground cover. How can we keep the slugs at bay? We are in the the Pacific Northwest
view the full question and answer

Where to find Horseherb seed
August 02, 2015 - I would like to purchase some Horseherb seeds. Can you tell me where I can do that? Either locally or on line. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
view the full question and answer

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