Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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 - April 29, 2013

From: Towson, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shrubs, Vines, Wildflowers
Title: Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I need a groundcover for a sunny dry steep slope in Towson, Maryland. The slope goes from the parking lot down to a deck area.

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: Maryland, Habit – vine, Duration – perennial, Light requirement – sun, and Soil moisture – dry (because of the slope).

Some of the more drought and sun tolerant vine possibilities that could be used as steep slope groundcover plants include:

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) woody vine to 50 ft. Showy orange-red, trumpet-shaped blooms in spring. Semi-evergreen.

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) aggressive woody vine to 35 ft. Showy orange-red, trumpet-shaped blooms at the end of the branches throughout the summer.

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet) woody vine to 30 ft. In the fall showy orange capsules split to reveal crimson arils. Deciduous.

Clematis virginiana (Devil’s darning needles) fine-textured vine to 15 ft. A profusion of small white flowers in summer followed by a plume-like feathery achene. Deciduous.

Clitoria mariana (Atlantic pigeonwings) twining vine with lavender-pink pea-like flowers. Deciduous.

Vitis riparia (riverbank grape) deciduous vine, fast growing and long lived. Bluish-black berries relished by wildlife.

Some of the more drought and sun tolerant herbaceous and shrub possibilities that could be used as steep slope groundcover plants include:

Artemisia ludoviciana (Louisiana Artemisia) aromatic perennial, 1-2 ft. tall with silver foliage.

Rhus trilobata (skunkbush sumac) low spreading deciduous shrub to 3 ft tall. Yellowish clusters of blooms are followed by bright crimson berries on female plants. Colorful fall foliage.

Rubus trivialis (dewberry) sprawling shrub with white flowers followed by small edible berries.

 

From the Image Gallery


Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Atlantic pigeonwings
Clitoria mariana

Riverbank grape
Vitis riparia

Blunt-leaf rabbit-tobacco
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium ssp. obtusifolium

Louisiana artemisia
Artemisia ludoviciana

Southern dewberry
Rubus trivialis


More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflowers for Area Around Drainage Pond in Georgia
March 21, 2010 - We have a drainage pond behind our business in Albany, Georgia and would like to plant about an acre of wildflowers around it to help with soil erosion and to help keep weeds from taking over again, w...
view the full question and answer

Seeds native to New Jersey from Glendora NJ
April 16, 2012 - My sister is getting married and would like to send out native wildflower seeds to the guests in her save the dates. We want these seeds to be NJ native seeds, but we are actually having some trouble ...
view the full question and answer

How do I grow bluebonnets in East Texas?
April 03, 2009 - I live in the Piney Woods region in N.East Texas. I bought a flat of bluebonnets and want to know if they will grow back next year? If not, how do I get bluebonnets to grow back every year in my yard ...
view the full question and answer

Native Wildflowers and Grasses for Texas Acreage
April 15, 2015 - I recently purchased about 36 acres in Somervell County, Texas where cedar had been bulldozed and burned (many large spots). What would be the best native flowers or grasses to replant in that area? L...
view the full question and answer

Deadheading or trimming back of Asclepias spp
July 29, 2005 - I have some butterfly weeds (flowers) and I have heard conflicting stories as to how to cut them back. Should they be deadheaded to elongate bloom time or does that prevent any seeds from replanting?...
view the full question and answer

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