En Español

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?


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

Wednesday - March 14, 2007

From: Pleasantville, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Propagation
Title: Plants for elementary school grow lab in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton


What can we grow in a grow lab in our elementary school library from seed now that will bloom by June or what interesting looking established plants can we put in this grow lab that will have meaning for the children? We already have an edible garden where each child grows vegetables in grow lab and outdoor raised beds.


This is rather a short time period to ensure growth from seed to flower, especially outdoors in New York. However, you might have luck with annuals grown inside in your grow lab. Here are three plants native to New York that should be commercially available as seeds: Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed), Gilia capitata (bluehead gilia), Mimulus guttatus (seep monkeyflower)

You might be better off going to a nursery that specializes in native plants and selecting some small bedding plants that are already well on their way. The children could still see them grow—adding leaves and producing buds that open as flowers and then mature into seeds.

If you go with established plants, perhaps you could select several native plants with different types of flowers to demonstrate how the important flower structures differ in various plants. You could choose plants with dramatic blossoms such as: Lilium canadense (Canada lily), Iris prismatica (slender blue iris), Trillium grandiflorum (white trillium)

Coreopsis tinctoria

Gilia capitata

Mimulus guttatus

Lilium canadense

Iris prismatica

Trillium grandiflorum



More Propagation Questions

Reversion of maroon bluebonnets back to blue
March 01, 2007 - In the fall, I bought a flat of Texas bluebonnets. They are blooming now, and it turns out they are actually maroon bluebonnets! Which is really too bad, because I want blue bluebonnets. Do you know i...
view the full question and answer

Iris brevicaulis in Southwest Michigan
April 22, 2007 - We live in Kalamazoo, MI (Southwest Michigan Zone 6) and discovered last year that we have an iris brevicaulis (we think) growing (and very pretty) on our property. It has the "zig zag" stem. It see...
view the full question and answer

Planting Texas Mountain Laurel seeds in Horse Shoe Bay,TX
July 09, 2012 - I have harvested Texas Mountain Laurel pods and extracted the seeds from the pods. The seeds are characteristic red/orange/maroon. When is the best time and best method to introduce seeds into pots? ...
view the full question and answer

Aromatic sumac in Travis County
August 14, 2010 - This is an answer to article in today's, August 14, newspaper. I assume that aromatic sumac is native to Travis county because I have it all over my property. It turns bright red in the fall adding...
view the full question and answer

When is it safe to mow wildflowers in Castroville, TX?
May 26, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My yard in Castroville, TX sprouted many wildflowers early in April. By now the Blue Bonnets are seeded and gone. However, I still have a lot of Mexican Blankets. My husba...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center