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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 26, 2012

From: Charlottesville, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Rain Gardens, Erosion Control
Title: Riverbank retention in VA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I need some groundcover/bank retention for a Virginia riverbank in mixed sun and shade. I want to plant something native to VA. the area is out of the water but subject to occasional (4-5 times per year) flooding. Rocky,sandy soil. When it floods it sometimes leaves sand, but more often removes it, which is why I want to plant something to retain the soil and help prevent erosion. Thank you very much.

ANSWER:

The best plants to stabilize a bank and prevent erosion are plants like grasses that have fibrous root systems and shrubs and perennials that spread with runners to form thickets.

You can find suitable plants by doing a Combination Search on our Native Plant database.  Select Virginia, the plant habit and your conditions (part shade).  It sounds like the soil is quite dry except when it floods, so select dry conditions.  The list that is generated has links to detailed information pages for each plant.  You can then check which plants are adaptable enough to tolerate the wet conditions of flooding as well.

As your conditions are very much like those in a rain garden, you will find a very informative article the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has published about rain gardens as well as a plant list , helpful. You can cross reference between the lists you generate and those on their list.

Here are a few plants to consider:

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Grasses with deep fibrous roots:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

More Rain Gardens Questions

Need suggestions for plants for bioswales in Philadelphia, PA
August 24, 2015 - Hello, Are there a handful of species you would recommend for inclusion in bioswales throughout the US? I realize plants need to be selected based on climate, but I'm wondering if there are two or...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a wet area in Ohio
March 30, 2010 - I have a lot of water in my front yard are there any kind of plants that I can plant to drink up some of the water? I live in North East Ohio
view the full question and answer

Retention pond from Hendersonville NC
April 24, 2012 - We have a retention pond that has recently been cleaned and we would like to plant perennial native plant and grass seeds that will enhance the appearance and contribute to the natural process of filt...
view the full question and answer

Edible Plants for a Virginia Rain Garden
October 21, 2009 - Can you recommend edible plants that would be appropriate for use in a rain garden? I'm located in Charlottesville, VA, but this can be in general as well.
view the full question and answer

Rain garden plants for Austin
March 20, 2010 - I have a 7'x1' shaded area in between my house and sidewalk where the downspout is, and would like to add plants for a more eco-friendly drainage solution. Which plants would be best? I know that th...
view the full question and answer

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