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

Wednesday - August 26, 2009

From: arlington heights, IL
Region: Select Region
Topic: Pruning, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Fragrant foundation plants for sunny, dry area in Illinois
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

We need suggestions of what to plant on the south side of our house heave sun and rather dry soil. We just took out old dead bushes. Would prefer something that flowers and smells nice that would grow about 3-4 feet high.

ANSWER:

Searching fragrant perennial shrubs and herbaceous plants for those compatible with full sun, dry soil, at 3-4 feet high yielded the list below. You may want to compromise on the fragrance or the size to increase the options. Note that fragrance may come from the flowers of a plant or the leaves/needles. 

Ribes aureum (golden currant) is a deciduous 3-6 ft. shrub adaptable to most sites. Yellow blossoms turn orange as they age and yield a spicy fragrance and berries that are red, yellow, or black. Hummingbirds and butterflies find the blossoms attractive. Familiar native roses at 2-5 ft. may be to your liking. All are deciduous, forming dense mounds with white to pink blossoms maturing to colorful red hips. While Rosa acicularis (prickly rose) is thorny, Rosa blanda (smooth rose) is less prickly. (Images available on Google.) Though  Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) is prickly and stands only 1-3 ft. tall, it is a common landscape choice and has lovely 2 in. pink blossoms. 

You may consider pruning a shrub that threatens to be taller than you wish. With that in mind, these taller fragrant shrubs are mentioned. Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) is known as "forsythia of the north" for its early tiny yellow fragrant blossoms. This fast-growing deciduous shrub ranges between 6-12 ft. high, offers red berries in late summer and yellow fall foliage. Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac) is a sprawling, fast-growing foundation shrub ranging between 3-8 ft. tall. Spring brings yellowish fragrant catkins before the aromatic foliage appears. There will be fall leaf colors and dark red berries providing food for winter birds.

Lacking the fragrance you desire, but ranging between 3-4 ft tall are Amelanchier stolonifera (running serviceberry) (images available on Google) and Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil), a popular landscape plant.

Some perennial herbaceous plants may fit in your space. Take a look at Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot), Pycnanthemum incanum (hoary mountainmint), Artemisia frigida (prairie sagewort), and Juniperus communis (common juniper) . All have minty or spicy smelling foliage.

A list of shrubs native to Illinois may be helpful for you to browse on your own. Using plants native to your area will provide natural beauty with easier maintenance and increased pest resistance. Consult your nursery purveyor also for native plant suggestions for your site. Suppliers for Illinois may be found at this site


Ribes aureum

Rosa acicularis

Rosa carolina

Lindera benzoin

Rhus aromatica

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Monarda fistulosa

Pycnanthemum incanum

Artemisia frigida

Juniperus communis

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Recovery of an agarita having been cut down from San Antonio, TX
August 16, 2013 - I had an agarita adjoining a cedar and a volunteer hackberry in my yard. The tree trimmers were supposed to cut out the hackberry but unfortunately also cut the agarita back to the ground. How long ...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back, pruning and dividing native plants
April 21, 2005 - I am wanting to cut back, or prune, and divide many of my native plants but don't know how. What should I do? I bought them all at the native plant sale at the center last fall. We have a family ...
view the full question and answer

Arrows and Hunting Dogs in Kentucky
December 09, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants--Is it normal for our arrowwood viburnum to give off a musky odour in the late fall? The smell reminds me of a wet hunting dog.
view the full question and answer

Time to cut back Turk's Cap in Austin
January 27, 2011 - I did not find my question answered in the database. My question is: When is the best time to cut back Red Turks Cap? I live in Central Austin.
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Salvia greggii from San Antonio
June 29, 2011 - We bought Salvia greggii at the Wildflower Center Plant Sale three years ago and planted them in a well drained area. We cut them back early in the year as recommended at Go Native U classes. ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center