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

Thursday - October 28, 2010

From: Wooster, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants for a pool fence in Ohio
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I live in Ohio and have a pool with a white vinyl fence. Each year I plant sunflowers around it, but they are so messy when the birds/bees find them. Previously I planted castor beans, however, they are so poisonous that I stopped doing that. Could you give me some ideas of tall full plants, annual or perennial, flowering or non-flowering that would do well in this area. I currently have clematis growing which do quite well along with other smaller flowering plants. Thank you for your help


You don't mention what kind of growing conditions you have but I am assuming that around a swimming pool it is fairly sunny and that in central Ohio soil fertility is not an issue.  I am also assuming that you are dealing with a fairly narrow strip, which is why you are not considering shrubs.

Our Native Plant Database can generate lists of plants that are native to Ohio for you to choose from, but you will ultimately be limited by what plants are available in your local nurseries. You can perform a Combination Search selecting: Ohio, herb (herbaceous plant), and then the size (I chose 3-6 ft), conditions (sunny) and bloom time (I chose June/July/August as that is when you use the pool).  You can also go to the Recommended Species page, click on Ohio and then narrow your search in the same way. It will give you a shorter list of plants that are considered to do well in garden situations and are readily available.  You can locate native plant nurseries in your area by going to our Suppliers page and, again, selecting Ohio.  All of the lists have links to detailed infomation pages with photos for each plant. You can repeat the process for grasses and vines. 

You should be able to create a planting using a combination of these that is not only attractive and interesting but will also be easy to take care of.  Native plants are adapted to your ecosystem and require little extra water, fertilizer or pesticide.

I have selected some plants from those lists that I think would work well for you. 

Perennials (some tall, some shorter)

Agastache scrophulariifolia (Purple giant hyssop)

Aruncus dioicus (Bride's feathers)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Heliopsis helianthoides (Smooth oxeye)

Liatris spicata (Dense blazing star)

Vernonia noveboracensis (New york ironweed)


Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed)


Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper)

Agastache scrophulariifolia

Aruncus dioicus

Coreopsis lanceolata

Echinacea purpurea

Heliopsis helianthoides

Liatris spicata

Vernonia noveboracensis

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sporobolus heterolepis

Campsis radicans






More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Information about Turk's Cap for school project
October 19, 2012 - Hello, my name is Veronica. I am doing a Species Study on Turk's Cap at Clint Small Middle School in the Green Tech Academy. I would like to learn more on my Native Texas Species. I am contacting you...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to grow between flagstones in Vista, CA.
February 06, 2012 - Hi, I have put in a flagstone patio set in DG. The DG is creating a very sandy messy surface on the flagstone, so want to plant a low ground cover between the joints. Its a fairly large area, in sun...
view the full question and answer

Plant for full sun behind waterfall
March 21, 2009 - I have a 24 inch waterfall around my pool. I need to plant something behind it. I have full sun and hot Texas weather. I will be watering everyday, so what do you think would grow well in this area?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Septic Field in NC
August 14, 2013 - What kinds of low water plants can I plant over a new septic field in North Carolina? The area is part sun so I am concerned about having trouble getting grass started.
view the full question and answer

Native container plants from Hillsdale NJ
March 22, 2013 - Looking for suggestions for the easiest natives to grow in containers.
view the full question and answer

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