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?

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
7 ratings

Friday - April 25, 2008

From: Cincinnati, OH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Rain Gardens, Wildlife Gardens, Compost and Mulch
Title: Native plants beneficial to wildlife in Cincinnati, OH
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Cincinnati, Ohio and I am looking for native plants to plant in a small area of trees behind my house. I would like the plants to be beneficial for wildlife, like maybe some wildflowers. The area tends to get very wet in the spring but then dries out in the summer. Any suggestions or what type of plants to look for would be great.

ANSWER:

You will have to be careful how you plant in an area that is wet one season and dry the next. If you plant a "swamp" plant, or one that likes wet feet, then when the soil dries out, that plant will likely die. If you plant something that likes a drier soil, its roots will drown in the wet season. Do not despair. There is something you can do. I don't know what kind of soil you have, but any soil can benefit from working some humus, like compost, into it. You can spread it on the soil and till it in, you can work it into the planting holes, whatever works for you. It's important that the compost not totally replace the native soil. Sooner or later, those roots are going to have to deal with the native soil, and they need to be prepared. Whether your soil is sandy, in which case it drains too fast, or clay, which holds the moisture in place, the compost will improve the texture, help with drainage or hold moisture in during dry periods. Compostguide.com has an excellent How To Make Compost.

Now, having warned you about moisture, we are going to the Recommended Species of our website, and select herbs (flowering plants), shrubs, grasses and trees (all perennials) that are recommended for Ohio. You didn't mention how much sun your area received, so we will not select for sun exposure, and will select for medium moisture in the soil. We will give you a link to each type of plant recommended for your area, and you can go back in and Narrow Your Search for different sun exposures, more or less moisture, etc. And when you're ready to select the plants for your garden, go to our Native Plant Suppliers list for the Cincinnati area.

Recommended herbs (flowering perennials) for Ohio

Recommended shrubs for Ohio

Recommended trees for Ohio

Recommended grasses for Ohio

As you look at each list, you can click on the plant link, and read the description of the plant, how much sun it needs, how large it will grow, etc. Since you specifically mentioned wildlife benefits, we are going to go through and pick some of our favorites for your part of the country.

HERBS

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Rudbeckia triloba (browneyed Susan)

SHRUBS

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Viburnum acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

TREES

Aesculus glabra (Ohio buckeye)

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Hamamelis virginiana (American witchhazel)

Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree)

GRASSES

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Aquilegia canadensis

Asclepias tuberosa

Conoclinium coelestinum

Rudbeckia triloba

Cornus alternifolia

Physocarpus opulifolius

Viburnum acerifolium

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Aesculus glabra

Cercis canadensis

Hamamelis virginiana

Liriodendron tulipifera

Andropogon gerardii

Bouteloua curtipendula

Elymus canadensis

Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Flowering vine for trellis behind fountain in Anaheim Hills CA
June 05, 2010 - We are looking for a flowering vine to plant on a trellis surrounding a water fountain. The fountain splashes leaving the soil constantly wet. We have tried numerous vines, but they all die due to t...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing vine for cinder block wall in Albuquerque
July 26, 2010 - I live in Albuquerque, N.M. and have a cement/cinder block wall and was wondering if there is a vine I can plant which will be easy to grow, grow fast and cover my wall without any type of help like a...
view the full question and answer

Splash-proof plants from Oakton VA
October 01, 2012 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants, Re: low, evergreen ground cover, Northern Virginia The bare soil around my freshly painted screen porch splashes up onto the white framing when it rains so I am looking for ...
view the full question and answer

Instructions for composting in southeast Texas
February 18, 2008 - Do you ever offer composting classes? I live in Houston and would like to start composting in my backyard... are there any particular books you would recommend for composting in SE TX? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a bioswale in Baltimore
July 22, 2009 - What native plants would suit a bioswale in an urban part of Baltimore City? The clay soil gets waterlogged and the site has part shade.
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center