Some Bank Plants you can bank on

Successfully planting a bank or a slope can be a challenge; steep and hard to water, a pain to work on. Here are some ideas.

California natives and Mediterranean plants are your obvious good choices. Planting now will allow the winter rains to help get them established. After they are growing well, the summer lower watering suits them just fine. Succulents take almost no care and do well on banks. Choose the best for your site.

Here are some suggestions from experts plus some favorites of Evelyn.

Sabina Hildebrand is Weidner’s Gardens succulent expert. Here are Sabine’s succulent choices. For the ground-cover look, try creeping Sedums, which grow almost effortless in dry soil. Because they root along the stem, it makes them an ideal choice for very steep banks and sunny slopes. There is no need for supplemental irrigation, their only requirement is good drainage. Many colors, shapes and sizes can give you a real pallet of textures and tones.

If you want to mix in some height try some of the new Aloes. They bloom almost all year and grow pups all around the mom. Aloe “Cynthia Giddy” and Aloe Rudikoppie are just two of the many that Sabine likes. Both can take shade or full sun and you will have some blooms throughout the year. There are lots of choices, so ask the experts what is best for you.

Here are some of Evelyn’s favorites that are not succulents.

California Lilacs (Ceanothus) are one of the most beautiful of the California natives — deep blue or white spring flowers that cover the plant. Ceanothus can be large shrubs but they can also be low ground-hugging bank plants. Yankee Point is one of the best. It stays low and one plant can make a 5- to 10-foot spread.

Another interesting bank plant is Russelia equisetiformis, which means foliage like horse hair. This grows to be a big shrub with long sweeping branches of grass-like foliage that will be covered with bright red tubular flowers from March to December. Hummingbirds go crazy. Planted at the top of a slope, the branches can hang down three to four feet.

Mia, of Cedros Gardens fame, also has some super suggestions.

For partial sun, try Creeping Morning Glory Convolvulus mauritanicus. For west sun, all the Lantanas work, but New Gold is Mia’s first choice. Old-fashioned purple Lantana will bloom all year.

For that hottest south side, both Mia and Evelyn like the Australian native Grevilleas. Mia’s favorite is Grevillea Mt. Tamoritha and Evelyn likes Coastal Gem. Both have pink flowers, are low, wide spreading and like the coast. Hint, Grevillea’s love poor granite type well draining soils.

Do not feed them high phosphate fertilizers. That’s the middle number on your fertilizer label. In fact, the less fertilizer, the better.

A final word of advice — ask before you buy. Use Google for images and information but note where the site is from. UK is not the same as California. Always give good loving care until your plants are well established.

Happy gardening from Evelyn.

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