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

Thursday - October 01, 2009

From: Thornwood, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Container Gardens, Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Overwintering Cardinal Flower in Thornwood NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have 6 Cardinal Flower plants in planters. They have mulch on top to keep them moist. Can they stay in the planters all winter? Do I cut the stalks before winter comes or leave as is?

ANSWER:

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower) is native to New York and to Westchester County, on the southeastern tip of New York. It is hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 10; you are in Zone 6a, with minimum average annual temperatures of  -10 to -5 deg. F, so it would seem the answer to your question is yes. The only reservation we have is that the roots will be in planters instead of the earth. When roots are in the ground, the whole earth is insulating them from the cold. In a planter, they are insulated by the mulch on top of the soil, a few inches of potting soil, and whatever the planter is made of. If it is possible, it would be better if the containers were situated in front of a sunny wall, where the day's warmth from the sun would be re-radiated back out to the nearby plants. If that is not possible, we still think the roots of this plant will be all right, just do everything you can to protect them from freezing temperatures. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native flowers for cutting for wedding in June
January 25, 2009 - My husband and I are hosting a wedding reception for our daughter and her husband in Austin in June. If possible, we would like to use live flowers or live colorful plants as centerpieces and decorat...
view the full question and answer

Need tips for planting wildflower seeds in pots in Edinburg, TX.
July 22, 2012 - Can you give me some tips for starting wildflower seeds in pots or trays, rather than outdoors? Is this even possible? Most instructions I have found are for seeding large areas. I want to get some p...
view the full question and answer

How to grow tulips and daffodils in Central Florida.
March 27, 2009 - My question is how can you grow tulips and daffdoils in central Florida, just south of Ocala, a place called the Villages? I am from the Washington, DC area and truly miss these flowers, any help wou...
view the full question and answer

Cottage-style landscaping for Chesapeake VA
August 02, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plant staff, I recently moved into a cottage style home that has a poured concrete/paver patio. I am trying to come up with ideas for plantings that would 1. give me a bit of privacy,...
view the full question and answer

Sharing Selfheal with Texas Friends
April 25, 2013 - I have discovered selfheal plants in my yard. When and how do I collect the seeds or do I just dig up plants to share with friends? I understand this is actually an herb. I love identifying wildflower...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center