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

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
1 rating

Tuesday - May 24, 2011

From: Vernal, UT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Planting, Seasonal Tasks
Title: Native plants for Summer Planting in Vernal UT
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What are the native plants that I could plant this summer in Vernal, Utah

ANSWER:

Our first reaction was that we don't recommend planting in Summer, but then we discovered that Uintah County, in the northeast corner of Utah is in USDA Hardiness Zone 5a. Vernal is considered one of the coldest areas in Utah, so the best answer to your question is: "Plants native to right where you are."

We would still recommend that you do your planting either right away, in May, or delay until Fall, especially for woody plants, like trees and shrubs. For long summer blooming, annuals that will die after they have seeded would be a good choice, but they may need to be planted earlier next Spring. Many perennials don't bloom until at least the second year after they have been planted, and will die back to the ground in cold weather. Mulching to protect the roots and trimming back the dead stalks to mark where the plant is will help.

To know what will do well where you live, look around and see what is already there out in the woods or fields. It looks like conifers are numerous there, so that's a good place to start. We went to our Recommended Species section, and clicked on Utah on the map.  This gave us a list of 159 plants that are native to Utah, trees, shrubs, succulents, grasses and ferns. By looking at the numbers available in our lists of the various types of plants you (and we) can see what is most prevalent in your area and most likely to succeed there. These lists will, of course, include all of Utah, so you will have to also check and see if plants chosen can take the temperatures in your area, as opposed to lower elevation, more desert-like areas in southern Utah. In the Rocky Mountain states, just determining a hardiness zone, elevations and average temperatures can be a challenge because of the beautiful terrain in which you live.

We suggest, before you select any plants, you contact the Utah University Cooperative Extension Office for Uintah County. They should have plant lists that are suitable to your area.

When we got to the page with 159 plant possibilities, we went to the sidebar at the right-hand side of the page and selected "Trees" under General Appearance. This gave us a list of 26 trees native to Utah, many from the Cypress or Pine families. From those we chose Abies concolor (Balsam fir); by following the link to our webpage on that plant you can learn its projected size, what light requirements it has, what kind of soil it likes and so forth. If that doesn't suit you search on some of the other trees on that list.

In the same manner, we are going to choose an herb (herbaceous blooming plant), shrub and grass. You could also check the lists for ferns, vines and cactus/succulents.

Looking at the 61 possibilities for herbs, we chose Aquilegia flavescens (Yellow mountain columbine).

There were 40 recommended shrubs, and we liked Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick).

From 25 grasses, we like Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem).

As you learn to use our database, and observe what is already growing well in your area, you will be able to make choices and learn when and how to plant them in your garden.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Abies concolor


Aquilegia flavescens


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi


Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

More Seasonal Tasks Questions

When should salvia greggii be pruned from Austin
December 12, 2013 - Should salvia greggii be pruned in fall/winter? I thought I read onsite that all woody perennials should be left untouched or pruned to 6 inches. Does this apply to salvia greggii?
view the full question and answer

Winter care for plants in Austin
December 05, 2008 - Hello, I'm just getting into the gardening thing, and have planted tons of plants this fall here in Austin. I'm a bit worried about them with winter right around the corner. My first question is r...
view the full question and answer

Oak Sucker Reprise
May 02, 2015 - ----Original Question---- SUNDAY - JULY 06, 2014 Title: Live Oak Suckers Reprise, Austin TX QUESTION: Referring to an entry dated March 11, 2011 about Live Oak suckers - what happened to the su...
view the full question and answer

What to do about cold damage to spineless prickly pear?
March 05, 2010 - In Austin, Texas our 'spineless' prickly pear cactus is about 6' wide by 4' tall. In the last severe freeze, the top half flattened out and has remained that way. Should I cut the flattened pads o...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to esperanza in pot from Brady TX
December 10, 2009 - My esperanza, currently in a container, has suffered some freeze damage. I have prepared a planting spot for it and am not sure whether to plant now, trim it back if I do plant it, etc. I would appr...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center