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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - October 01, 2012

From: Oakton, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Groundcovers
Title: Splash-proof plants from Oakton VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi Mr Smarty Plants, Re: low, evergreen ground cover, Northern Virginia The bare soil around my freshly painted screen porch splashes up onto the white framing when it rains so I am looking for short (less than 8"), evergreen ground cover for the east (sun/shade), south (full sun), and west (mostly shade) sides of my porch. Other flowering native plants will be planted with the ground cover. Thanks for promoting native plants and for your help with this question. Please do not put my email address on any mailing list, use only for response to this question.

ANSWER:

In the interests of privacy, no one's name or e-mail address is ever published, so don't worry about that.

The quickest, if short-term, solution to your problem is a good-quality shredded bark mulch. This will deflect the water splashes and enrich your soil as it decomposes. Read our How-To Article Under Cover with Mulch.

We say "short term" because as the mulch decomposes, it will soak down into the soil, amending it for good drainage and helping little new rootlets to get nutrients and water out of the soil. So, once you have at least alleviated the splashing with the mulch, you can go to our Native Plant Database and select some plants that could go in that bed of mulch either now or in the Spring.

Using the Combination Search on that page, select Virginia as the state, and begin with herb (herbaceous blooming plants) under Habit, and the appropriate amount of sunlight under Light Requirements. Down near the bottom of that search page, you can select the mature height you wish. We will make you a trial run list. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to determine its growing conditions and appearance. Then, you will know how to use the database and can construct your own searches. If you have difficulty finding plants you want at local commercial nurseries or home improvement stores, go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zip code in the "Enter Search Location." This will produce a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and consultants in your general area. All have contact information, so you can get in touch in advance to find out what they have and where they are.

Low-growing plants from Oakton VA:

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)

Bacopa monnieri (Coastal water-hyssop)

Bidens frondosa (Devil's beggartick)

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge pea)

Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina springbeauty)

Coreopsis auriculata (Lobed tickseed)

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches)

Erythronium americanum (Yellow trout-lily)

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Hexastylis arifolia (Littlebrownjug)

Hydrocotyle umbellata (Manyflower marshpennywort)

 

From the Image Gallery


Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Herb-of-grace
Bacopa monnieri

Devil's beggartick
Bidens frondosa

Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Partridge pea
Chamaecrista fasciculata

Carolina springbeauty
Claytonia caroliniana

Lobed tickseed
Coreopsis auriculata

Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

Yellow trout-lily
Erythronium americanum

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

Little brown jug
Hexastylis arifolia

Manyflower marsh-pennywort
Hydrocotyle umbellata

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