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

Thursday - June 30, 2005

From: Monterey, CA
Region: California
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Low maintenance native plants for college campus in Monterey, CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am a graduate student at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. We are researching ways to save money (decreased maintenance, pesticide/herbicide use, etc) on our campus. I need some ideas on: Wildflowers that will grow here year round (and hopefully bloom a lot) and low-maintenance landscaping ideas to help beautify our campus. Thanks in advance.

ANSWER:

For an excellent discussion of plant communities and information on designing a garden with native plants from California, visit Las Pilitas Nursery in San Luis Obispo. They also have a listing of native plants with descriptions of the plants and growing conditions and helpful tips.

Here are a few suggestions for evergreen plants:
1) Chaparral Yucca (Yucca whipplei) or the percusa varietal (Yucca whipplei var. percusa)
2) Beach wormwood or Beach sagebrush (Artemisia californica)
3) Ceanothus or Low blue blossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)
4) Coyote bush or Dwarf coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis)
5) Evergreen currant or Catalina perfume (Ribes viburnifolium)

To find a list of more nurseries specializing in native plants in your area visit National Suppliers Directory on the Wildflower Center webpage. Looking through the list of available species at one of these, Central Coast Wilds, in Santa Cruz will give you an idea for other plants that would be suitable for your project.

You might also contact Monterey Bay Master Gardeners to find out more about the plants that grow best in your coastal area. They are associated with the University of California Cooperative Extension. The Master Gardeners do take on projects and yours might qualify for volunteer help.

You didn't ask for any data to support your plan to use native landscaping but I am including information on a study reported by a group in Illinois called the Openlands Project. According to its web page, the "Openlands Project, founded in 1963, is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing public open space in northeastern Illinois." The study (results of which are available as a downloadable PDF file on their web page) was undertaken by Applied Ecological Service of Brodhead, Wisconsin and estimates that maintaining prairie or wetlands costs only $3000 per acre versus $20,000 per acre for non-native turf grasses over a 20 year period.
For another estimate, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency publishes "A Source Book on Natural Landscaping for Public Officials" on line that outlines the economic benefits of using natural vegetation.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Time for planting wildflower seeds in East Texas
August 06, 2007 - I live in northeast Texas, and we have had abundant rains here. Can I plant some wildflower seeds now, and if so, what plants would be appropriate?
view the full question and answer

Bees and Bulbs
April 20, 2015 - Are any of the Non-Native bulbs beneficial to bees of any kind? My Dutch hyacinths, and daffodils are so prolific; they are both single, but I can't find any information about them as sources of nect...
view the full question and answer

Overwintering Yucca Seedlings in Illinois
October 02, 2013 - I have many yucca seedlings I started this year. My question is what do I need to do with them to overwinter here in Northern Illinois and when do I plant them in the ground for best chances of survi...
view the full question and answer

Schedule for planting perennial wildflowers from Asheville NC
March 22, 2013 - When is the best time to plant perennial wildflowers?
view the full question and answer

wildflowers with interesting seed heads for winter interest
January 09, 2015 - I am looking to establish a wildflower meadow this year, and I want to include wildflowers that have interesting seed heads for winter interest. What would be your recommendation? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

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