En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants for a Vacant Lot in the Big Apple

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

Wildflowers that will grow in sandy soil in New York
June 09, 2005 - Dear Mr. S. Pants, We live near Albany, NY in what was once a pine forest. The soil is very, very sandy. I've had some success with wildflowers but I have to use some topsoil and humus mixture to ...
view the full question and answer

Arizona centaury near Lost Maples from Austin
November 05, 2012 - I found a clump of Arizona centaury growing/blooming beside a road near Lost Maples State Nat. Area in the Texas hill country last week. Centaurium calycosum is the scientific name. I have 2 questio...
view the full question and answer

Will maroon and Texas Bluebonnets prosper in Richland MO?
July 02, 2013 - I live in Richland, MO and have obtained both Maroon and Texas Bluebonnet seeds from Fredricksburg, TX. Will they prosper in this area and when is the best time to plant? I have read how and what type...
view the full question and answer

Rules for picking wildflowers
May 30, 2008 - I've always heard that, if not in a park or posted area, it is ok to pick one wildflower for every 13 and therefore leave a dozen. Is this at all true?
view the full question and answer

How long do bluebonnets last?
April 21, 2009 - How long do bluebonnets last? When should I no longer expect to see the beautiful state flower along the side of the road? I want to know how long I have to take memorable pictures of my children. Tha...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center