The Q&A Archives: Planting a Rocky Hillside

Question: We would like your suggestions for flower seed mixes that would provide long-lasting color, be easily maintained, and not require much more than tossing seed. Here's our situation:

We have a south-facing hillside along our house that gets full sun through most of the day. It has a slope of 1:2. The soil is hard and rocky and has recently been covered by jute mesh we rolled out to help protect against erosion after removal of lots of weeds. In about one year a deck will be constructed covering a large part of the area but in the meantime we would like to do something simple like toss flower seeds to add a bit of color, to help keep the weeds from returning, and to help hold the hillside.

Answer: You've certainly got a difficult situation to deal with. Here are two possible solutions: Burpee's carries a collection called 'Long, Hot Summer Garden'. The plants are especially selected for their tolerance of hot, dry conditions, and include Celosia, Cosmos, Marigolds, plus others. Second suggestion, have you considered a wildflower meadow mixture? Usually they contain both annual and perennial plants, can withstand droughty conditions, and will reseed, helping to crowd out competing weeds. Burpee's catalog carries a collection of wildflower mixes (order online at, or phone toll-free for a catalog (800) 888-1447). Johnny's Selected Seed Catalog offers sever wildflower mixes, as well. Contact them at (207) 437-4301, or write to Johnny's Selected Seeds, Foss Hill Rd., Albion, ME 04910-9731.

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