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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.

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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.

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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!

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Wednesday - March 03, 2010

From: oxford, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Rain Gardens
Title: Rain Garden plant for N. Mississippi
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Rain Garden Plants for North Mississippi/Mid-South Region. I wish the search parameters included plants which tolerate seasonal flooding and droughts, so that each state might search for its own rain garden/bioswale/ditch plants. Folks get confused and make rain gardens with liners to accommodate plants needing constant moisture, even adding water in the dry season. We want to maintain our water table - Memphis and Mississippi are sip sip sippin' and the downspouts are drip drip drippin' sky gold down the stormsewer drains - please help us use our brains! We also have too much erosion, and all that bad stuff ends up in our oceans!

ANSWER:

When we receive questions like yours we are delighted, because then we know that our message is getting through.

You are right when you point out that a person shouldn't be watering their rain garden during a drought.  By selecting native plants that are adapted to conditions of extreme wet and dry, a rain garden will take care of itself.

Mr. Smarty Plants wishes the database were searchable by habitat as well; unfortunately we have only one lonely Green Guru (we call him the Green Geek) working on all aspects of our website. We'll get there one day.  In the meantime, there are over 4,000 previously answered questions in the database that can be searched by topic or keyword.

Click on Mr. Smarty Plants and then search the keyword rain garden or bioswale and you will find a number of questions with information and links.  Then visit our Plant Database and do a Combination Search for Mississippi entering "wet conditions" and the appropriate amount of light.  You will then have to select the ones that are actually adapted to dry conditions as well because, as you know, the rain garden is sometimes very dry.  

You will find a Rain Garden Fact Sheet at the  at the North Mississippi Native Plant society Website. Although they are not specific to your area you might find the Rainscapes (Maryland) and Rain Gardens (Michigan) websites and a Texas Rain Garden Plant List helpful as the principle is the same regardless of the location. If you go through all their plant suggestions in conjunction with the lists of Mississippi natives generated by our database, you will be able to create a list of rain garden plants specifically for your area.

 

 

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