Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - July 05, 2011

From: Forest City, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Turf, Wildflowers
Title: Short wildflowers to interplant with grass in PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in NE PA and would like to grow short wildflowers throughout my yard mixed in with my grass. Is this possible? If so, what would be a good match for my zone? I will be mowing the grass once a week so I would prefer something under six inches so that I'll be able to see the flowers when they bloom.

ANSWER:

This is actually not an easy request.  Our Native Plant Database will generate lists of plants native to your area by doing a Combination Search for Pennsylvania.  When selecting herbaceous plants that grow in sunny conditions (which we assume your lawn is) that are less than one foot tall, it generates a list of only 14 plants.  If you select sun and part shade, there are more choices, most of which will actually be taller than 6 inches.

In addition to that challenge, most lawn mowers will cut your lawn closer to 3 or 4 inches than six, so you would actually have to "mow" with a string trimmer.  All the plants flower at the ends of their stems, so one miss and the flower is gone.

Sorry we cannot be more supportive of your idea ... most meadow wildflowers evolved in the tall grass prairie so they are taller to compete with the grasses.  If you want wildflowers in your lawn you will have to plant them in swaths that you can mow around.  Check out our database and do the Combination Search; you may find what you are looking for.

 

More Meadow Gardens Questions

When to reseed wildflowers in a drought year?
October 18, 2011 - My acreage with extensive wildflowers was mowed in 2010 before annuals had seeded. Only a few returned this year. Considering the predicted lonterm drought should I postpone reseeding this fall?
view the full question and answer

Planting a meadow garden in Pennsylvania
November 16, 2014 - I live in Saxonburg PA near Pittsburgh PA. I want to put a meadow garden in my back yard. We are building a home so there is no established yard yet just trees and weeds. Where do I start . What...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower garden for a drain field in Olivet MI
June 27, 2010 - I have a large area that is currently lawn over a drain field. I would like to turn this area into a wild flower garden. Will the wild flower roots, etc. cause any concerns or damages to a drain fie...
view the full question and answer

Restoring a prairie from Austin
January 11, 2013 - Restoring a mixed grass Blackland Prairie? Prairie Plant Succession? We are trying to establish climax species when an area is in a pioneering phase. Does the soil chemistry or biota change during ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Road Frontage in NC
March 12, 2015 - I need a fast growing ground cover or perennial flower for 1,000 feet of road frontage about one acre that will choke out weeds. I do not want to do much ground prep or any ground prep. I do not want...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.