Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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

Friday - January 16, 2009

From: Tarrytown, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Propagation
Title: Student project on Hudson Valley, NY native plants and ecology
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty, Hi I am starting a project with a school group 4th-6th grade, that has a greenhouse. The goal is to teach children about native plants & ecology of the Hudson valley region in NY. We will be propagating plants for proposed planting of a rain garden or meadow. What plants (south-eastern NY) might be the easiest for children to propagate? Part shade.

ANSWER:

Because we were not too familiar with rain gardens (in fact, in Central Texas we've about lost touch with rain, period) we found some information that helped us to understand the ecological importance of rain gardens and how to construct them. We particularly liked this article from the University of Rhode Island on Rain Gardens. On the subject of planting a meadow, please read our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening.  This article actually deals with large-scale planting of a meadow, but its suggestions on the sort of plants and the mix ratio of grasses and herbaceous plants should be valuable, anyway. We are going to go to our Recommended Species section, select New York from the map, and look for some appropriate plants for your project. We will want plants that can tolerate wet soil for a period for the rain garden, as well as plants suitable for a meadow, and then look at propagation instructions for each to try to help you determine which would be appropriate for your young gardeners to try. For the meadow, we're going to pick some wildflowers but also some grasses, which usually are very easy to plant from seed. Three of the grasses are also good candidates for the rain garden.

For other resources, check with the Cornell University cooperative extension office for Westchester County.  On that home page, under "4-H Youth and Family Development", there is a School Gardening Program where you can find additional information and contact names.  Native Plant Societies can also be a great deal of help with projects like this, but we did not find one for Westchester County; perhaps you have local contacts for such an organization.

Now, on to the plants.  Follow each link to the webpage to get propagation instructions, moisture and sunlight requirements, and go down the page to the Google link to that plant for still more information. If you need help finding the seeds, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area.

FOR THE MEADOW- herbaceous plants

Campanulastrum americanum (American bellflower) - 3 to 4 ft. tall, annual, blooms blue and purple June to August. Seeds germinate easily, shallowly plant the small seeds in Spring for a biennial and in Fall for an annual.

Desmodium canadense (showy ticktrefoil) - 2 to 6 ft. tall, bushy perennial, blooms pink and purple June to September.

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm) - 3 ft. stems, perennial, blooms red in July and August.

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox) - 8 to 18", perennial, blooms white, red, pink and purple March to May

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan) - 1 to 2 ft. stems, annual, blooms yellow June to October.

FOR THE MEADOW - grasses

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) - perennial, stems 4 to 8 ft. tall, can withstand periodic flooding and high water tables, so is also good candidate for rain garden.

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - 2 to 3 ft. warm season perennial grass.

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama) - perennial, 10 to 1" tall.

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint) - perennial 3 to 5 ft. tall, valuable wetlands restoration species.

Deschampsia caespitosa (tufted hairgrass) - 2 to 3 ft. high, also good in rain gardens.

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) - 1 to 1-12 ft. tall, perennial

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - perennial, 2 to 4 ft. tall, not native to New York, but is to New Jersey, so would be fine at your location.

OTHER PLANTS FOR RAIN GARDEN

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail) - perennial, spread by spores, not seeds, but with some small starter plants, it is very valuable in a rain garden.

Equisetum hyemale (scouringrush horsetail) - perennial to 3 ft. tall, again not a seed plant, but wonderful in rain garden and can perpetuate itself nicely.

Equisetum hyemale var. affine (scouringrush horsetail) - spreading reed-like perennial, worth trying to start in greenhouse.

Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail) -perennial, 4 to 8 ft. tall.


Campanulastrum americanum

Desmodium canadense

Monarda didyma

Phlox divaricata

Rudbeckia hirta

Andropogon gerardii

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua hirsuta

Calamagrostis canadensis

Deschampsia caespitosa

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Chasmanthium latifolium

Equisetum arvense

Equisetum hyemale

Equisetum hyemale var. affine

Typha latifolia

 

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Looking for seeds of Collinsia verna (Mary Blue eyes)
March 27, 2009 - Dear Friends, I am desperately trying to locate (for purchase) seeds for the wildflower "Mary Blue Eyes" or "Spring blue-eyed Mary" (botanical name Collinsia Verna.) Internet searches for see...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers after controlled burn in New Braunfels, TX
February 19, 2009 - I live in the Hill Country a few miles north of New Braunfels. As soon as we get enough rain to lift our burn ban, I will be thinning out some of my Ashe juniper and will do some burning in the open ...
view the full question and answer

Keeping a Texas Madrone alive from Belton TX
October 01, 2012 - I have found a supplier of a Texas Madrone and have been wanting to grow one ever since our family vacation to Big Bend NP. My question is how do you have success with this tree? Many people say it is...
view the full question and answer

Plants for church gardens in Ft. Worth TX
November 07, 2013 - Second attempt. Our church has many gardens in Fort Worth, TX. There are gardens for blue,red,yellow,white,purple,orange,pink,mixed,community garden,roses, and more. I am interested in the la...
view the full question and answer

Tall Evergreens for Pennsylvania
January 06, 2011 - I want to plant tall evergreen trees that grow really tall in deep shade or that I can plant already fairly large and withstand the shock of planting in a mature state and live in deep shade. I thank ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.