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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - February 08, 2009

From: Rock Falls, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Drought and pollution resistant flowers for Rock Falls, IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for hearty flowers for our city planters that are both resistant to drought and auto emissions. We are located in northern Illinois. Planting is done in May.

ANSWER:

We're not sure if you are looking just for herbaceous flowering plants, or also for flowering shrubs, so we'll suggest some possibilities for both. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we constantly encourage the use of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being planted. Because they have become accustomed to the climate, rainfall and soil conditions, native plants will require less fertilizer, water and maintenance. We're not sure if there is research available naming some plants more resistant to pollution than others, but all plants, in the process of photosynthesis, are absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. It can be a huge tree or a tiny grass, it works the same way, if not on the same scale.

We will go to our Recommended Species section, click on Illinois on the map, NARROW YOUR SEARCH, and select first for "Herbs" (herbaceous plants) and later for "Shrubs" under Habit. Then, we'll take a look at the individual plants and eliminate the ones that call for high water use. Follow the plant links below to the webpage on each plant, where you can establish the size, light requirements and bloom time of each plant. You can go back, using the same procedure, and select also on Light Requirements (sun, part shade, shade), Soil Moisture, etc. and make your own choices. These plants are all commercially available; when you have found some plants you are interested in, if you are having difficulty locating them, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in the name of your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environment consultants in your general area.

FLOWERING PLANTS FOR NORTHERN ILLINOIS

Herbaceous Plants 

Campanulastrum americanum (American bellflower) - annual, blooms blue, purple June to August

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed) - perennial, blooms yellow April to June

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower) - perennial, blooms pink, purple April to September

Geranium maculatum (spotted geranium) - perennial, blooms white, pink, purple March to July

Helianthus strumosus (paleleaf woodland sunflower) - perennial, blooms yellow July to September

Liatris aspera (tall blazing star) - perennial, blooms pink, purple August and September

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower) - perennial, blooms red May to October

Rudbeckia subtomentosa (sweet coneflower) - perennial, blooms yellow July to September

Shrubs

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil) - 3 to 4 ft. high and wide, may be deciduous or evergreen, blooms yellow June to September

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry) - 4 to 6 ft., blooms white, green April to July

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea) - 3 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms white March and April

Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle) - 3 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms red, orange, yellow, purple June to August

 

From the Image Gallery


American bellflower
Campanulastrum americanum

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Spotted geranium
Geranium maculatum

Paleleaf woodland sunflower
Helianthus strumosus

Tall blazing star
Liatris aspera

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Sweet coneflower
Rudbeckia subtomentosa

Shrubby cinquefoil
Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Northern bush honeysuckle
Diervilla lonicera

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Flowers for September wedding in Sunbury PA
April 15, 2012 - I am trying to grow my own flowers for a wedding in September. Can you please advise as to what i can grow to bloom? i live in northeast Pennsylvania. Wedding is in D.C.
view the full question and answer

Information on edible tubers of hog potato from Austin
November 10, 2011 - I inquired a while back about hog potato or Hoffmannseggia glauca. You gave me some information on the plant but no information on when the plant produces the edible tubers. Also how long does it take...
view the full question and answer

Shade ground cover under honeysuckle from Wichita KS
February 21, 2012 - Hi! I know this is a bit odd, but I am trying to find a nontoxic, good ground covering plant that can live in the shade while competing with the roots of a whole bunch of honeysuckle. I have a few ide...
view the full question and answer

Hybrid Impatiens leaves yellowing from Marietta GA
June 23, 2012 - My impatiens looked great when I went out of town, I had recently fertilized. The person left to water them fertilized them. Now they are yellow and dwarfed. Anything I can do?
view the full question and answer

Natural fibers for lashing bamboo in weaving
May 07, 2008 - I live in Austin and am looking for plants I can use for weaving fibers, e.g. lashing bamboo for a small project. What plants and parts do you recommend? What resources do you recommend for informatio...
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