En Espa—ol

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?

Share

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
2 ratings

Thursday - April 03, 2008

From: staten island, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Suggestions for native perennials in Staten Island, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My back yard garden has a good base of evergreen shrubs and perennials all doing well in clayish soil and I am ready now to add color and texture in an area with partial sun. Can you suggest hardy perennial flowers that are are long lasting, tall and showy as well as some very tall ferns? Also, can you suggest a tree that is green all year, no leaves, that would survive the soil?

ANSWER:

Before we begin, can we do a little term-defining? You referred to a tree that is "green all year, no leaves.." We trust you mean not a deciduous tree that drops its leaves in the Fall. Any tree is going to have to have some kind of leaves, to take the sun's energy and convert it into food for the plant to exist. Nobody likes to rake leaves, but they're great for compost piles, if you're into that.

We found a number of perennials native to New York that can grow in a clay soil, and four ferns. The tree situation was not quite so easy. As far north as you are, there are not many trees, including the conifers, that will stay green all year and still take the clay soil. We found a couple, and are going to suggest that you check out this Cornell University Department of Horticulture website on Trees and Shrubs. We weren't sure what county Staten Island is in, but it appeared that it is in Kings County, and we found this Cornell University Extension website on New York City. On one of those sites you should be able either to find a better list of trees suited to your situation, or a contact that can give you information. Click below on the plant name links and get the information on the webpage from our Native Plant Database. If you still need more information on the plant, go all the way to the bottom of the webpage and click on "Search Google for (plant name)".

PERENNIAL FLOWERING PLANTS

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Desmodium canadense (showy ticktrefoil)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Penstemon digitalis (talus slope penstemon)

Phacelia distans (distant phacelia)

Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)

Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf coneflower)

FERNS

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Osmunda regalis (royal fern) - Images

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern) - Images

TREES

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) - Images

Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock) - Images


Achillea millefolium

Conoclinium coelestinum

Coreopsis lanceolata

Desmodium canadense

Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia siphilitica

Monarda fistulosa

Penstemon digitalis

Phlox divaricata

Physostegia virginiana

Podophyllum peltatum

Rudbeckia laciniata

Osmunda cinnamomea

Polystichum acrostichoides

 

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Getting rid of rain lilies in Aledo, TX
August 24, 2008 - How do I get rain lilies to stop growing in my yard?
view the full question and answer

Converting a Texas backyard to grow Xerophytic native plants
January 09, 2015 - I am planning the conversion of our backyard, about 4000 sq ft of largely St Augustine, into a grassless landscape of hardscaping and native plants. Iíve been an avid gardener of rock garden plants i...
view the full question and answer

Project on natives in Connecticut from Chino CA
April 13, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My 10 yr. old daughter is doing a project on Ct., and would like to know what the most common plants, trees and flowers are found in this state. A few of each would be a great ...
view the full question and answer

Source for silver ponyfoot from Temple TX
March 19, 2013 - Where can I purchase dichondra argentea -- I live in Bell Co. but am willing to come to Austin if need be. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plants for soil with basalt outcroppings in Idaho
March 30, 2008 - We have basalt (lava) outcropping in part of our back yard and know we'll have to search for pockets of soil in which to plant. Any suggestions about what trees or shrubs would have a chance in thes...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center