Rent Shop 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

Saturday - September 15, 2012

From: Bethesda, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Lists, Vines
Title: Plant to trail down concrete block retaining wall in Maryland
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, Your website is an excellent resource. Thank you very much! My girlfriend recently bought a house that has a concrete block retaining wall in the front yard. We want to improve the appearance of this wall but we don't want to invest in a masonry facade. I can tell the retaining wall was not professionally installed and I have questions about it's durability. The wall holds back a substantial amount of soil. At the top of the wall are excellent Azaleas and a patch of grass. At the bottom is the poured concrete driveway. When I saw your site I realized that a plant native to Maryland that would droop over the side of the wall and grow down towards the driveway would be the ideal low cost visual improvement. We don't want a climber for this location because we are afraid a climber would climb up the Azaleas. Do you have any recommendations for a plant we could place at the top of the wall that would grow over the side of the wall and droop down the side? Thank you very much for your help!!

ANSWER:

First of all, thank you very much for the compliment!

Here are several vines/trailing plants that should work for your wall.  For the ones that are designated as vines you will need to be vigilant in keeping them from climbing up the azaleas.   You may want to construct a string trellis to "train" them to trail down the wall.

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) is an evergreen vine, but will trail across the ground.  Here is more information from Floridata.

Phlox subulata (Creeping phlox) will trail over the wall for a short distance.   It is a great groundcover.  Here is more information from Views from the Garden.

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper).   Be sure to read the warnings about its invasiveness.  If you train it to trail over the wall, it should be an excellent cover.   Check its tendency to climb up the azalea plants.  It can be trained to trail down the wall.  Here is more information from Linders.

 Clematis virginiana (Devil's darning needles).  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper).  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

More Vines Questions

Need plants to cover a fence and retaining wall combination
January 27, 2010 - Recently we replaced our fence and I need help with plants to mask an 18 foot section of fence/retaining wall. The fence guy set the fence back about 10 inches from the top of the retaining wall which...
view the full question and answer

Safe to plant Wisteria frutescens near a foundation?
July 01, 2015 - I am interested in planting a Wisteria frutescens 'Nivea'. It will be next to a house foundation wall. Could you tell me what type of root system it has? Would it be a root that would dama...
view the full question and answer

Need a native vine to grow on a fence next to a horse pasture in Kerrville, TX.
May 01, 2013 - I have a wooden fence between my yard and the horse pasture. I would like to plant a native Texas vine (grapevine, honeysuckle, etc.) to cover the fence that will be evergreen and showy, but one that ...
view the full question and answer

Passiflora and Leucophyllum together in Texas
April 23, 2015 - I've got a Passiflora incarnata that has self-propagated around a cenizo sage. My question is, will the passionflower vine choke out or otherwise damage the cenizo? Do I need to cut back the vine? ...
view the full question and answer

How to propagate Scarlet leatherflower (Clematis texensis)
May 25, 2015 - How do you collect seeds for the scarlet leatherflower? I saw your answer on how to grow from seeds but I'm not sure how to collect the seeds. Also is it possible to grow the scarlet leatherflower...
view the full question and answer

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