En EspaŅol

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 24, 2011

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Plants for a Vacant Lot in the Big Apple
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We have recently gone in to restore a vacant plot in Harlem. This soil is varied, but mostly rubble, old slag, some sand in one area, old fill- pH 7-8.5. We dug a small trench in there that gets filled by roof water during a rainstorm. We couldn't bring in new soil, so we are trying to weed and treat every year.It's dry and in full sun most of the day. Can you recommend some nice looking native grasses or other hardy plants. We want it to look nice so that the residents learn to like it and appreciate it as a garden rather than a trash pit. Thank you!!!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants did a little searching in the Explore Plants area of Wildlower.org. He looked for plants are native to the New York city area according to the USDA, do well in poor soils, grow in full sun, and are less than six feet tall. In addition, he made sure that the plants are listed as being commercially available.

Here is a list you can start from:

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow). This has white flowers and blooms from July to mid-September in the New York area.

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly-everlasting). White flowers that bloom from June to October. Attracts butterflies.

Campanula rotundifolia (Bluebell bellflower). Blue or purple flowers that bloom June to September.

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis). Yellow flowers blooming April to June. An easy plant to grow.

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot). White, pink, purple flowers that bloom from June to September.

Penstemon hirsutus (Hairy beardtongue). Pink or purple flowers in June and July. This one attracts hummingbirds.

Phlox subulata (Moss phlox). White, pink and purple flowers from March to June. This plant spreads rapidly in poor soils.

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan). Yellow flowers from June to October.

Vaccinium angustifolium (Late lowbush blueberry). White flowers in May and June.

Finally, here is a shrub:

Gaylussacia baccata (Black huckleberry). White flowers from May to July.

 

From the Image Gallery


Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Western pearly everlasting
Anaphalis margaritacea

More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflower to succeed bluebonnets
April 08, 2008 - I am looking for a "partner" plant for bluebonnets? What perennial plant doesn't really "appear" until after April? What I want is a sea of bluebonnets in March and April but when they go dorm...
view the full question and answer

Using Native Plants Database to determine flowering time in Austin
April 07, 2006 - How can I access your data base to learn what plants are flowering in Austin during the months of October and early November?
view the full question and answer

School project picking wildflowers
March 16, 2009 - We have a Biology PreAp class in our high school that has their students do a wildflower project each year. The teacher gives the students a list of 25 wildflowers and the children have to locate, pi...
view the full question and answer

Native plant bibliography
March 20, 2004 - What book do you recommend for identifying the native plants and wildflowers of my region?
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet peak for 2010
January 14, 2010 - What does 2010 look for bluebonnets in Texas. When will they peak?
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