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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - October 12, 2010

From: Meadville, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Wildlife garden for PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty plants, I am a student at Allegheny College, Meadville, PA. I am working on my senior thesis, and I hope to submit a successful proposal to plant a native species and wildlife garden around our college's new ES department. Could you help me with what species would be good to attract and which would have educational benefit and be cost effective? What model (garden, ecosystem landscaping etc) would be beneficial in your opinion?

ANSWER:

Well, seeing as how this is your project, I won't do it for you but can certainly point you in the right direction.

The first thing you need to do is determine which ecozone/region you are in and decide what biome(s) you want to represent in your plantings.  For instance, it may be more appropriate to duplicate a woodland garden ecosystem than a meadow, depending on your setting at the college.  You will find the NatureServe website and database very helpful in making that determination.  It takes a little time to familiarize yourself with their database and how to search it according to your state or ecozone ... but you are a student!

Once you have determined what type of habitat you are going to create, the National Wildlife Habitat certification program will help you figure out what you need to provide.  In general, "if you build it ... they will come".  If you provide the three essential requirements: food, water and shelter, you will attract wildlife.  Keep the food web in mind ... all these critters will want to eat each other!

When you get to the plant selection process, you can visit our Native Plant Database and do a Combination Search for Pennsylvania to generate lists of plants that are native to your area.  The Recommended Species search will give you lists of plants that are easy to obtain at nurseries and there is also a link to native plant suppliers in your area.  Each plant name on the list will link to a detailed information page that provides bloom information, cultivation requirements and wildlife benefits.

You may also find the Evergreen.ca database helpful. Even though you are not in Canada you are in the Great Lakes watershed and have a similar climate and plants as Ontario.  You can search their database according to the Habitat Garden you are planting (i.e. pond, woodland, meadow, butterfly, bird, hedgerow and so on).  You can cross reference the plant list they generate with the PA native list fom our database.  Check out our Bibliography page for books on the topic (select Wildlife and Mid-Atlantic).  I also recommend The Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-region Guide:  The Wildlife Gardener's Guide.

Have fun, let us know how you make out and don't hesitate to cntact us if you have more questions.

 

 

More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Backyard habitat
March 20, 2004 - I’d like to start a backyard habitat. How do I begin?
view the full question and answer

Xeriscape demonstration garden
October 30, 2007 - I am working with the city of Schertz to rejuvenate a xeriscape demonstration garden. We want to plant a hummingbird/butterfly garden using native plants. The current bed is currently overrun with ber...
view the full question and answer

Schedule for pollen and nectar for bees in Austin
May 27, 2010 - For beekeeping in western Travis County (Cuernavaca at Bee Caves) I need to know what nectar and pollen is flowing when. I have asked my local beekeeping club, but they are in Blackland Prairie and d...
view the full question and answer

Shade-loving plants for birds in New Jersey
March 25, 2013 - What native plants should I add to my property, Zone 6, to feed birds naturally? I have a heavily treed lot, so I'd like names of shade loving perennials. Seed or fruit bearing options would be gre...
view the full question and answer

Host plants for Painted Lady Butterflies (Vanessa cardui)
August 22, 2009 - I am looking for host plants for the Painted Lady Butterfly that I can plant in my school's (I am a teacher) native plant/butterfly garden. As part of the curriculum, each Fall our 2nd graders study ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center