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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

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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Thursday - May 11, 2006

From: Milwaukee, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Native flowers and ground cover for damp, shady area in Wisconsin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would like to plant some flowers and ground cover in the front of my yard near my home. This spot is usually damp and nearly always shaded. Any suggestions? Also I'm looking for blue flowering plants. Any suggestions? I currently reside in Wisconsin.

ANSWER:

Here are a few suggestions for plants for that will grow in moist soil and shade in your area and are commercially available:

Yellow marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris)
Closed bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii Griseb.)
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Jacob's ladder (Polemonium occidentale)

I am not sure whether you are looking for blue flowers for the wet shaded area, or whether your blue flowers are for a different area with sun and drier soil. The Jacob's ladder above has flowers that are blue, and the following list contains blue flowers that require sun. Some prefer dry soil and some prefer wet. You can check out the Growing Conditions for each plant from the menu at the top of each page.

Great blue flag (Iris virginica)
Narrow-leaf blue-eyed- grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
Sky-blue american aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense)
Blue larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum)

You can find more plants that fit your criteria by searching in the Native Plants Database. Choose Combination Search from the menu near the bottom of the page to select different criteria (e.g., Bloom Characteristics, Growing Conditions, etc.) for locating your plants. You can find sources for native plants in your area when you visit our National Suppliers Directory.
 

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