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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 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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Saturday - February 25, 2006

From: Dayton, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Ferns, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Low cost, low maintenance, water tolerants native plants for New Jersey
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am planning a bed around my deck which will include shrubs and flowers. I am looking for plants that require a lot of water due to the wet soil conditions and poor drainage in my yard. Do you have any suggestions for low-cost, low-maintenance plants?

ANSWER:

Here are a few suggestions that are commercially available:

Taller shrubs (6-12 feet)
1. Baccharis, or Sea myrtle (Baccharis halimifolia)
2. Coastal sweet-pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)

Smaller shrubs (<6 feet):
3. Black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata) with orange and red leaves in the fall.
4. Bog-laurel (Kalmia polifolia), an evergreen
5. Rusty Labrador-tea (Ledum groenlandicum), also evergreen
6. Wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), available in a dwarf version and also evergreen.

Wildflowers:
7. Milk vetch (Astragalus canadensis)
8. Yellow marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris)
9. Great blue flag (Iris virginica)
10. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
11. Wrinkle-leaf goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)

Fern:
12. Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)

On the Native Plants Database search page, select "Narrow your search" under Combination Search and you can search for more plants for New Jersey using plant characteristics and growing conditions. You can find commercial sources for these plants in the National Suppliers Directory.

 

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