Ideas for plants that will cascade over retaining wall

amna(6 (MA))March 15, 2008

Hello all,

I was just wondering if people (particularly those who live with retaining walls) would be willing/interested in sharing ideas/photos of ways in which they have softened, greened up and made more colorful these rather humungous stone structures? I was going to try to see if I could compel some blackeyed susan vines to creep over and cover as much of the wall as possible. Might be too boring though? Maybe punctuate it with some other trailing vines? Wonder how white phlox would do?

Anyway, it's just another cold, grey day here in boston and I thought it would be a nice distraction.


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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

Anna, I've tried many things while trying to get my gold alyssum to establish. The most colorful vines have been nasturtium. They're a bit slow to start but once they get going they really soften up the wall, sorry no photos. They even did well in an area that didn't get sun until after 3 pm.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 10:38AM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Old standbys for the top of a retaining wall are Creeping Phlox, Basket of Gold (I think it's now called Aurinia saxitalia) which is pictured here with variegated Wintercreeper. I don't recommend the Wintercreeper however, it is invasive and requires a huge amount of pruning to keep it in its bounds.

You might also consider one of the low creeping junipers (eg Blue Rug) which we use on the long stretches of retaining walls we have on our property. They are an excellent groundcover and require very little maintenance other than an occasional haircut when they reach out to grab unsuspecting passers-by :-)

Other plants that like the excellent drainage of stone walls are Dianthus and Snow in Summer.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 11:06AM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

How much sun does the retaining wall get - which direction does it face? I thought of a few other ideas today (we were out cleaning up the mess left over from snow cover since early December!!)

Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a sprawling vine - with some sun it produces red tubular flowers that Hummingbirds's a woody native vine, easy to grow ...although I have not personally tried it over a wall, I think it would do well if it had enough moisture.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 8:20PM
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sedum37(Z5 MA)

Many of the creeping sedums will do well over stone. I have also used Basket of Gold. Another one to try is CERASTIUM 'Snow in summer' pretty white flowers, drought tolerant, grey foliage. I have also used Juniper Blue Rug and can attest to its usefulness. Creeping phlox is another one. You can put pockets of soil in between the stones and making planting holes. To do this I used old onion bags, spaghnum moss and soil. There are other methods that also work to hold the soil in place.

Here is a link that might be useful: Some photos...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 12:56PM
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sedum37(Z5 MA)

Here is a thread on gardenweb with more info..

Here is a link that might be useful: Some more postings...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 1:02PM
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sedum37(Z5 MA)

Should stop and think before hitting the Submit button!

Semperviviums (Hens and Chicks) do well in crevices of stone walls.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 1:06PM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Another idea for large expanses of retaining wall is to use plants that are naturally floppy (eg. peonies or New England Asters) and plant them at the top of the wall. Don't bother staking or pinching them and let them flop right over the edge of the wall. If the wall is quite high it can look really nice to see the big cascade of flower heads billowing over the edge.

Works for me in an area that is such a jungle that I can't easily reach it to pinch the Asters back...and I have seen unstaked peonies used effectively this way too.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 6:25PM
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Interesting idea. I'd like to try that.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 7:33PM
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