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?


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

Wednesday - August 18, 2010

From: Wausau, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Want to create a native wildlife habitat for our home in Wasau, WI.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I am trying to create a native wildlife habitat for our home. We live in Marathon County, Wisconsin (north central Wisconsin). We live near woods, meadow, wetlands. Could you send me a list of native perennials, shrubs, grasses, trees, annuals, biennials, etc. to plant that would attract the following:Birds, butterflies, moths, beneficial insects, that would benefit all wildlife native to this region? Thank you!


Mr. Smarty Plants will do even better than that. He will aquaint you with the numerous resources available on this web site, and show you how to use the NPIN Database which will allow you to generate such a list for yourself.

Lets first get some background information. Go to the How To Articles page which contains a wealth of information about the type of project you have in mind. The list below has some articles that I selected which seem pertinent to what you want to do.  As you read through this material, you will come to realize that your endeavor is going to take a lot of time, effort, and patience. (Ggardening is not for the faint of heart!)

A Guide to Native Plant Gardening

Buter Fly Gardening

Wildlife Gardening

Getting Started

Meadow Gardening

Recreating a Prairie

For the plants, lets go to the Native Plant Database. There are two ways of doing this; the first is to use the Recommended Species list. Start by clicking on the View Recommended Species page button. When this page comes up, click on Wisconsin on the map and you will get a list of 178 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Wisconsin. Visit our Suppliers Directory to locate businesses that sell native plants or seeds or provide professional landscape or consulting services in Wisconsin. Clicking on the name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page which has information about the characteristics of the plant, its growing conditions and requirements, and images. Scroll down to the Narrow Your Search box, and you can specify the types plants you want by choosing among the parameters of Habit,  Life Span, Light Requirements, and Soil Moisture (ignore the Bloom characteristics in your early searches, and add them in later as your refine your list). By intergrating the information on these pages with what you have learned from the reading material how to come up with a plant list.

Another approach to using the Native Plant Database is to use the Combination Search box. This is similar to the Narrow Your Search option previously mentioned. Use this if you already have some idea of the plants you want. it will usually generate a larger list than the Recommended Species list.

I think you can see that by altering your selections, you can generate severallists of plants for your project.




More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Establishing wildflowers on a slope in Virginia
August 18, 2012 - From Roanoke Virginia. I have a steep bank rising from one side of my driveway to woods above. Different areas vary from full sun, to half day shade. It is possible to carefully walk/stand on it, we a...
view the full question and answer

Dead woody plants in wildlife garden in Austin
March 02, 2011 - I am an enthusiastic and pretty successful wildlife gardener, have studied my Wasowski "Bible", but I can't get any evergreens established in my yard! We live on blackland clay, which I amend with ...
view the full question and answer

Recommendations for native plants for Dallas Co., TX
May 12, 2007 - Looking for a Recommendation: Can you suggest a plant that meets the following requirements? ENVIRONMENT -- - I live in Garland, in Dallas County, TX. - The soil is primarily clay. - Full sun...
view the full question and answer

Interested in a mini food forest
February 04, 2013 - I am interested in starting a mini "food forest" in a twelve foot by twelve foot patch of earth next to my house. I'd like to put a focus on making sure that the bulk of the plants I introduce are ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants to attract butterflies
October 18, 2007 - I'm a Texas A&M Wildlife and Ecology student working with a landowner in Bastrop County, Texas. As part of their Habitat Management Plan, they are hoping to enhance butterfly habitat on their proper...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center