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

Monday - May 11, 2009

From: West Covina, CA
Region: California
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Landscape color for Rialto, CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My sister-in-law lives in Rialto CA near the base of the San Bernardino Mt ranges and it gets very windy out there. She and I were trying to figure out the best native plants for her area. Her home faces north and catches the wind head on. Any suggestions to bring color to her landscape?

ANSWER:

The best thing to do is go to Recommended Species, click on Southern California on the map, and then Narrow Your Search to the types of plants you want. For instance, you could pick "herbs" (herbaceous flowering plants) under Habit, "perennial" under duration, "sun" (6 or more hours of sun daily) for Light Requirements, and indicate the soil moisture, for instance "dry." You can repeat the same sequence to find shrubs and trees, even grasses, for the area. You follow each plant link to the webpage on that specific plant, and find out when it blooms (if it does), what colors, and how delicate or sturdy it is reported to be. We will demonstrate the process with some suggested plants. Since we don't know what your sunlight situation is, or the moisture of your soil, we will choose some from each category with "sun or part shade" as requirements, and dry soil. You can then go back, repeat the process but insert your own specifications and see what you can find. In other words, you will have a tailor-made plant list for your conditions. Here is our "practice list."

Perennial flowering plants

Lupinus polyphyllus (bigleaf lupine) - 3 to 5 ft. tall, blooms pink, blue, purple in May, sun or part shade, dry soil

Nolina parryi (Parry's beargrass) - 18 to 30 inches tall, blooms white April to June, sun, dry soil

Penstemon centranthifolius (scarlet bugler) - to 3 ft. tall, blooms red April to July, sun, dry soil

Sphaeralcea ambigua (desert globemallow) - 1 to 3 ft. tall, blooms orange February to November, low water use, sun

Shrubs

Arctostaphylos hookeri (Hooker's manzanita) - 2 to 4 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms white, pink February to April, sun or part shade, moist or dry soil

Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush) - to 9 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms yellow in June, medum water use, sun

Ceanothus leucodermis (chaparral whitethorn) - 4 to 8 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms white, blue April to June, sun, dry soil

Gaultheria shallon (salal) - 1 to 4 ft., evergreen, blooms white, pink April to July, high water use, sun, part shade

Trees

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) - 15 to 30 ft., deciduous, blooms white, pink, purple April to September, low water use, sun

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) - 10 to 20 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms pink, purple March and April, medium water use, sun, part shade

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber (birchleaf mountain mahogany) - 8 to 20 ft. tall, semi-evergreen, blooms yellow April and May, low water use, sun

Fraxinus velutina (velvet ash) - to 40 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms yellow April and May, low water use, sun

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - 2 to 3 ft. tall, medium water use, sun, part shade

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (silver beardgrass) - 3 to 6 ft., low water use, sun

Scleropogon brevifolius (burrograss) - to 9 inches tall, low water use, sun

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - 18 to 24 inches, low water use, sun, part shade


Lupinus polyphyllus

Nolina parryi

Penstemon centranthifolius

Sphaeralcea ambigua

Arctostaphylos hookeri

Artemisia tridentata

Ceanothus leucodermis

Gaultheria shallon

Chilopsis linearis

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Cercocarpus montanus var. glaber

Fraxinus velutina

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Scleropogon brevifolius

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Shrub that will grow outside in Zone 5 from Millbrook NY
April 21, 2012 - Is there any shrub, tree or other sort of plant that will grow well in zone 5 in a very large container outdoors?
view the full question and answer

Looking for a redbud sized tree to plant in Tulsa OK.
September 27, 2011 - I am looking for a native tree about the size of a redbud to place in my prairie bed in Tulsa Oklahoma, wildlife friendly trees preferred, thanks!
view the full question and answer

Trees for privacy in NY
March 17, 2011 - I am looking for trees native to New York that I can plant in front of my backyard fence that is six feet tall that will not hide my fence or overshadow my east facing garden beds and plants underneat...
view the full question and answer

Using cedar chips as mulch in Wimberley, TX
August 19, 2010 - In TX Hlll Country there is an abundance of wood chips, usually "cedar", which I have used as plant mulch. Since wood chips extract nitrogen to decay, do you consider chips a poor choice as plant m...
view the full question and answer

How fast do trees grow?
September 03, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants I would like to know how to tell how much a tree will grow if the average of the trees are growing at the rate of approximately 3 to 3.5% annually. And how do they come up wi...
view the full question and answer

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