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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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Sunday - July 11, 2010

From: Wynnewood, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Shrubs
Title: Winter-interest plants in Wynnewood PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Could you please suggest flowering plants that provide winter interest after drying out (ie with seed pods or interesting dried flower heads)? I'm looking for something that grows in full sun. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Since we garden in Texas, it's a little difficult for us to conceive of something lasting through the kind of winters you have in southeastern Pennsylvania, Montgomery Co., USDA Hardiness Zone 6b.  In our National Organizations Directory, we located the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society, which probably could give you closer-to-home advice. Another good source for plant information in your area is the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office for Montgomery County.

To at least get you started, we will look at our Recommended Species, selecting on Pennsylvania and see if we can find some suggested plants for full sun. You can repeat this search by going the same route, selecting for herbs (herbaceous blooming plants), shrubs or trees. We discovered that not only will seed pods or dried flowers cause winter interest, but the structure of trees, shrubs and grasses that can make a snow sculpture can also be useful. It is most likely that berry-producing shrubs are going to display the best colors in the winter, and delight the birds in the process. Some of these plants have persistent seedheads, some attractive peeling bark, some are evergreen, some have structures that will support the snow for Winter sculpture. Follow each plant link to learn about that plant, its light needs and propagation. All are native to Pennsylvania.

Winter Interest Plants for Wynnewood PA:

Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox)

Phlox subulata (moss phlox)

Cirsium discolor (field thistle)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Ilex glabra (inkberry)

Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry)

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (redosier dogwood)

Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle)

Betula papyrifera (paper birch)

Betula populifolia (gray birch)

Picea pungens (blue spruce)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

 

From the Image Gallery


Creeping phlox
Phlox stolonifera

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Field thistle
Cirsium discolor

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

American holly
Ilex opaca

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Northern bayberry
Morella pensylvanica

Redosier dogwood
Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

Fiddleleaf tobacco
Nicotiana repanda

Paper birch
Betula papyrifera

Gray birch
Betula populifolia

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