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
3 ratings

Monday - January 21, 2008

From: Enterprise, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Native non-invasive plant seeds for Oregon wedding
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I study invasive plants and I am interested in native plant re-vegetation. I am also planning a wedding in July. We thought a nice party favor would be wild flower seeds. I have people coming from all over the country, with the majority from the midwest and a good number from OR and CA. I want to give something that can be sown anywhere without fear of spreading non-native plants. Can you recommend a ubiquitous native plant, or at least one that could be sown anywhere without hurting the native plant community? I was thinking common yarrow, Carolina crane's bill, sleepy catch fly, Joe pye weed, pink milkweed, fireweed, red columbine... Any suggestions where to buy these seeds? Thanks! Sarah


That is a lovely idea, nice for your guests and nice for the ecology. And since you are already working with invasives, you should be able to identify which seeds perhaps should not be presented to guests from certain parts of the country. In light of that, you might possibly want to have more than one packet or mix available for different parts of the country. So, for starts, let's look at your ideas for a more or less "universal" native wildflower.You can follow each of these links to get an information page on the respective plants.

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) This found throughout most of temperate North America.

Geranium carolinianum (Carolina geranium) Again, grows just about everywhere in North America.

Silene antirrhina (sleepy catchfly) Shown on USDA distribution map as growing in all of North America.

Eupatorium purpureum (sweetscented joepyeweed) This is apparently found only in the North and Eastern part of North America.

Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) The USDA distribution map shows this not appearing in the northwestern states, or Nevada, but does appear in California.

Chamerion angustifolium ssp. circumvagum (fireweed) THE USDA distribution map shows this plant distributed only in Washington State, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Minnesota, but does show up for all of Canada and Alaska.

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine) Referring again to the USDA map, this plant only appears naturally from North Dakota south to Texas and to the East Coast.

You understand, I'm sure, that the fact that these plants don't show up in our Native Plants Database or in the USDA database as appearing in the states you are interested in doesn't mean they won't grow there. It just means those databases did not have that information. If you would like to widen your search, go to our Native Plant Database, down the page to the Combination Search. We tried this out using the choices of "All States", "herb" as the habit, "Annual" as the duration, and "6 hours or more of sun" a day for light. This gave us 150 possibilities. Depending on what states you expect guests from, you could do one state at a time, add in "perennial" on one choice, etc. The individual page on each plant in our database gives you the growing requirements of that plant, the states in which it is found, bloom time and bloom color.

Finally, go to our Native Plant Suppliers Directory and, again using the appropriate choices, find seed suppliers either near you or providing mail order services. You probably won't be able to find a pre-made mix of the exact plants you want, but since you can buy in bulk, you can break them down into custom mixes of your own for each guest.

Achillea millefolium

Geranium carolinianum

Silene antirrhina

Eupatorium purpureum

Asclepias incarnata

Chamerion angustifolium ssp. circumvagum

Aquilegia canadensis









More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Native Plants for Shaded North Slope in Ohio
January 03, 2013 - I have a shaded north hillside which needs erosion control plants. Mostly moss and very thin grass grows there now. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Resources for native plants and landscaping in El Paso, TX
January 24, 2006 - I live in El Paso, Texas, and want to know more about flowers and other native plants and landscaping in this specific geographical area. I would like information on particular plants that are suita...
view the full question and answer

Seed sources for gardening projects for kids
March 27, 2008 - Hello! I want to grow some agriculture plants for my kids, namely, cotton, alfalfa, etc. Do you know of a source to buy seeds without chemicals? Thanks! p.s. If you have any other ideas for co...
view the full question and answer

Source for pecan mulch used at Wildflower Center from Austin
November 11, 2011 - Hello Mr. Smarty Pants I was recently at the Wildflower Center. I saw all the pecan shell mulch and was wondering where you get it from. I noticed awhile back that it is one of the recommended mu...
view the full question and answer

Using a stock tank as a planter for Maximilian sunflowers in Pflugerville TX
April 26, 2010 - I am going to re-phrase a question I asked last week, because even though I tried to be very careful, I posed it in a way subject to misinterpretation and thus did not get an answer. So here goes: I...
view the full question and answer

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