En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 15, 2007

From: chicago, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Lists
Title: Hardy perennials for Chicago
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have a duplex condo in Chicago. My basement or 1st floor is at sub-sidewalk level. This "patio" faces east and gets about 4 hours sun a day. It is about 8 feet high and covers an area 15x9. I'd like to plant some perennials that are hearty enough to survive a Chicago winter yet give me color or texture in summer and winter. Any ideas?


Experience has taught us that it is not possible to adequately design a garden or make specific plant recommendations sight unseen. The light, soil, water, and design considerations for each garden site are simply too complex. But we may still be able to help. The Native Plant Database features a search function designed to help with just your kind of project. In the "Combination Search" section of that webpage, select from the menu choices that are appropriate for your requirements. Once you have identified some species that would be good candidates for your project, read articles from the database appropriate to your project. The articles, "Landscaping With Native Plants" and "Wildflower Meadow Gardening" will probably be most useful to you.


More Plant Lists Questions

Less Maintenance Plant Suggestions for New Raised Bed in Henderson, NV.
April 03, 2014 - We have a newly constructed raised garden bed. I was wondering what kind of plants would be appropriate to plant this springtime in Henderson, NV with less maintenance because I work full time.
view the full question and answer

List of native plants found in South Texas counties
August 22, 2015 - Does the LBJ Wildflower Ctr. have a place on its site where lists of native plants found in each Texas county can be accessed? I am working on a comparative database of commonly used sources (e.g., La...
view the full question and answer

Native Plant for a Sunny South-facing House Wall in Tucson
March 01, 2014 - I have a problematic block wall on the south side of the house and I what a plant to soften the look of the wall. I tried butterfly bush which I'm told died from of bounce-back heat from the wall. I ...
view the full question and answer

Native Habitat Lists from Toronto ON
August 01, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants. I see that you provide Native Habitat information on the plant detail sheets. Would I be able to find a full list of habitat types anywhere on this website? Thanks,
view the full question and answer

Native Texas Plants for a Terrarium
October 08, 2014 - I have a 55-gallon aquarium that I would like to make into a terrarium. Are there any Texas native plants that would do well in the limited artificial light of the tank? The plants should be of varyin...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center