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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - June 24, 2012

From: Freeport, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Wildlife Gardens, Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Vines
Title: Non-toxic plants for dog yard from Freeport PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm looking for wildlife-friendly native plants that aren't toxic to dogs. I have a place for some small shrubs and/or flowers. And a climbing vine that I could train on a trellis would work especially well in one part of the dog-yard. The yard gets morning sun and is moderate to dry. Any thoughts?

ANSWER:

Our first thought is that, in addition to dog-friendly plants, you need plant-friendly dogs. Dogs love to play outside, and do not differentiate between digging up an imaginary bone or a prize plant. And they love to wallow in soft moist soil and blooming plants (without thorns). If you have grass or a low groundcover, they will make a path through it and no amount of pleading or training will cure them of the habit. We know this from personal experience, and have never since tried to mix garden and dogs.

So, here is what we are going to do - we will make you a list of plants in the categories you listed that are native to the area of Armstrong Co., USDA Hardiness Zone 6a. In the course of that you will learn how to use our Native Plant Database to make your own selections, based on the amount of sunlight each area has, projected height, habit (tree, shrub, grass, etc.). And finally we will give you a list of websites you can search on to make sure your plant selection is not poisonous. With all that information, you can make your own decisions about how to handle the dog/garden interface.

Since you mention wanting a wildlife-friendly garden, please read our How-To Articles on Wildlife Gardening and Butterfly Gardening. As we link you to our webpages on each plant, you will notice that many of them will list the butterflies, bees and birds that are attracted to that plant, with pictures and links to more information.

We will begin by going to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search, select on Pennsylvania for state, shrub (then flowering plants and vines) for Habit, part shade (2 to 6 hours of sunlight) under Light Requirements and dry under Soil Moisture. As you become accustomed to using the database, you can change the specifications, even selecting color and/or bloom time, as well as projected height.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweet fern)

Diervilla lonicera (Northern bush honeysuckle)

Campanula rotundifolia (Bluebell bellflower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Tridens flavus (Purpletop tridens)

Clematis virginiana (Devil's darning needles)

Passiflora incarnata (Purple passionflower)

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)

Websites to search for poisonous plant names:

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Sweet-fern
Comptonia peregrina

Northern bush honeysuckle
Diervilla lonicera

Bluebell bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Purpletop tridens
Tridens flavus

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

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