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?

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

Saturday - April 18, 2009

From: Birmingham, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Native plants for southwest side of house in Birmingham, AL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to know what I can plant on the southwest side of my house where there is a brick foundation and is really hot in the summer. I've tried irises and day lilies-not good. Suggestions?

ANSWER:

There are several members of the Iris genus that are native to Alabama, including Iris brevicaulis (zigzag iris), Iris cristata (dwarf crested iris) and Iris fulva (copper iris). However, it's more likely you have bearded iris, or Iris germanica in your garden. Extensively hybridized over the years, they originated in central and southern Europe, but have been grown in North American gardens extensively. The daylily, genus Hemerocallis, is native to Asia and, like the Iris, has been cross-bred and hybridized until they are very unlike their forbears. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Since your plants are probably so changed from their origins, there is no way of knowing whether their failure to thrive has anything to do with where they originally came from. What we do know is that plants native to your area and selected for sun and probably dry soil will be more likely to survive the extreme conditions you describe. 

We are assuming that you want herbaceous blooming plants, perennials, so that is what we are going to look for in our Recommended Species for Alabama. These plants are all commercially available, and if you have difficulty finding them, you can go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box; you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. Follow each plant link to the page on that individual plant and find out what size they are, when and what color they bloom, and how much water they normally need. Since they are natives, you will find they need less water, fertilizer and maintenance. 

Herbaceous blooming perennials for Alabama

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Hibiscus coccineus (scarlet rosemallow)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies)

Penstemon digitalis (talus slope penstemon)


Achillea millefolium

Asclepias tuberosa

Conoclinium coelestinum

Echinacea purpurea

Hibiscus coccineus

Lobelia cardinalis

Oenothera speciosa

Penstemon digitalis

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Growing Florist Roses
January 23, 2016 - Often I find that florist roses sprout for me, but I fail to get them to grow into a bush. Do you have the answer?
view the full question and answer

Cold hardy non-native fig tree for Dallas
July 04, 2008 - Do you know the best cold hardy fig tree that will grow and fruit in Dallas, Texas?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native African violets in Des Moines
January 08, 2010 - My violets have stopped blooming after years and have developed a growth in the middle of the plant. Can I save these plants and how can I revive them. Thank you, I am desperate to salvage them as the...
view the full question and answer

Non-native mango in pool area in Stuart FL
May 23, 2011 - We are landscaping a backyard and want to put in a pool. He wants to keep the huge mango tree that overhangs part of the pool area, I don't really care but would like to know what other fast growing...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for shade in Ennis TX
August 26, 2011 - My house faces south. The southwest side of the front yard has a Pride of Houston, Japanese Barberry, 2 crape myrtles and some dwarf yaupon hollies. The other section, divided by a stairway to the p...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center