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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.

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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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Saturday - April 20, 2013

From: Newnan, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers, Wildflowers
Title: Deer Resistant, Fast Growing Groundcover Suggestions for Georgia
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Our driveway is 1/4 mile in length and is steep on both sides (one side up one side down). It currently has grass that our contractor planted using seed when we built our house. We are unable to cut the grass due to physical limitations since it is too steep for a lawnmower. We are looking for a perennial ground cover that is 1) a Georgia native, 2) fast spreading, 3) deer resistant, 4) that will grow in full sun or partial sun, and 5) needs no watering as water is not available that far from the house. I would prefer some type of bloom of any color but, it is not mandatory. Grasses that are no maintenance would also work. It would also be impossible for us to till the clay soil on these steep hillsides so ease of taking root is a necessity. I have searched the Mr. Smarty Pants database and found a phlox but, it sounds like the seeds are doubtful to come up and otherwise, I would have to plant each plant individually. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: Georgia, Habit – herb, Duration – perennial, Light Requirement – sun and part shade, Soil Moisture – dry, Height – 0-1 ft. Additionally you can narrow down your search further by flower color and blooming times. When you have about a dozen possibilities, take a look at the deer resistant list and see which plants are mentioned.

Three native plants to be considered follow:

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) sun or shade tolerant, takes some moderate foot traffic, 6-12 inches tall, yellow blooms spring-fall. Easy to propagate by cuttings or division on your own. Low water use.

Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe (Southern green and gold)  Low maintenance, low groundcover for dappled shade. Yellow blooms in spring. Good for dry, fast draining soils.

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) Vigorous spreader, drought tolerant, white blooms in summer, full sun or part shade. Deer resistant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Southern green and gold
Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

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