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 - May 14, 2008

From: Williamston, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Planning a park along a railroad track in Williamston, SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We have a railroad track in Williamston, and we are cleaning up the park. Removing trees, planting flowers,shrubs. The track is on high ground and the Fire Dept. has burnt off the weeds. What kind of flowers could we plant on this large hill that would cover it and come back every year? It would be beautiful to do something for this because you can see it clearly from the park and the road. And it there an organization that could help with the seeds?


That sounds like a wonderful project, part reclamation and part new parkland. We'd like to suggest a meadow garden, with native plants that will be low maintenance and adapted to your region. In our How-To Articles we have an excellent piece on Meadow Gardening which we urge you to read. An important point made in that article is that just sprinkling seeds is not the whole answer. We are going to go to Recommended Species for South Carolina and give you a list of recommended herbaceous plants (herbs), and shrubs. We also will list some grasses that should work well there. Some of the suggested plants will be annual but self-seeding, and some perennial, so there will be return and increase of coverage every year. By using some evergreen shrubs and grasses that hold their place virtually year-round, you can develop an area that is never without some color and interest. When you look at the lists, click on the Latin name, which is a link to take you to a page of information, including propagation, whether it's evergreen, annual or perennial, etc.

In terms of help with the seeds, here is a list of Native Plant Suppliers in your area which provide seed. If you mean financial help with purchasing the seeds, we don't know of any national organization that does this sort of thing, although there may be some. However, you could probably get help locally by contacting garden clubs, nearby landowners, maybe even the owner of the railroad tracks. You might also contact the Native Plant Society of South Carolina, which may have some contacts on organizations with funds for that sort of project.

Suggested Grass and Grass-like Plants for South Carolina

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)



More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflower field for sewage leach field from Olga Washington
August 01, 2012 - I am interested in planting a large native wildflower field at a resort in the San Juan Islands in Washington State. It would be over a sewage leach field for many cabins and bathrooms. Are there any ...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
September 13, 2006 - I have a small field (about 1/2 acre) where I would like to grow bluebonnets and perhaps some other wildflowers for added color. Do bluebonnets need to be fertilized? Should I water them? How can I...
view the full question and answer

Texas bluebonnets for Illinois
March 12, 2008 - Thank you Mr. Smarty Plants. I will be closely checking the variety of Texas bluebonnets that I tried to plant. For the record, I did soak them first to loosen the seed shell. I think we probably just...
view the full question and answer

Sunlight needs for native wildflower seedlings from Double Oaks TX
January 27, 2014 - Last December I created a flower bed for my parents' backyard and sowed native wildflower seeds (obtained from Native American Seed). The bed is in full sun most of the day, and the seeds are alread...
view the full question and answer

Shallow Rooted Wildflowers for MA
March 25, 2015 - Do you have any suggestions for wildflowers that would be safe to grow on a capped landfill site? They would need to have roots no deeper than 24 inches.
view the full question and answer

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