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?


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 - March 22, 2013

From: Hillsdale, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Container Gardens, Ferns, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Native container plants from Hillsdale NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Looking for suggestions for the easiest natives to grow in containers.


We trust that you intend to have these containers outside, at least in warm weather, as few plants and even fewer native plants can survive living year-round indoors. We would first suggest that you read our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants. Since you did not mention if your plants will be in sun or part shade, we will only be able to give you a list of plants we consider good container plants native to Bergen County NJ.

Go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search feature on that page, select on New Jersey for state, and "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants) under Habit. You can run this search yourself, entering the amount of sun the plant will get, what height you want it to be, etc, but be careful - asking for too many specific characteristic may mean there is no plant that fulfills all those requirements and you will get no suggestions at all. Since we don't know what size pots you intend to use, we will not specify a particular height for our list. Follow each plant link on our suggested list to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, how much sunlight it needs, how big it gets and bloom time and color. You could even, again depending on the size of the pots, specify "shrub" or "fern" or "vine" under Habit, but for now we wll stick with the herbaceous blooming plants. When we searched as above, we got 1138 possibilities, and just scanned through them choosing ones we thought of a reasonable size and attractive; even so, we only got to the "E's" in the alphabetical list. You should first follow each link to our webpage on that plant to determine its suitability to your purposes. Then you can make your own list in the same way.

Agalinis purpurea (Purple false foxglove)

Amsonia tabernaemontana (Eastern bluestar)

Aruncus dioicus (Bride's feathers)

Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern)

Campanulastrum americanum (American bellflower)

Campanula rotundifolia (Bluebell bellflower)

Clintonia borealis (Bluebead)

Claytonia virginica (Virginia springbeauty)

Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Dryopteris carthusiana (Shield fern)

Erythronium albidum (White troutlily)


From the Image Gallery

Purple false foxglove
Agalinis purpurea

Eastern bluestar
Amsonia tabernaemontana

Bride's feathers
Aruncus dioicus

Common lady fern
Athyrium filix-femina

American bellflower
Campanulastrum americanum

Bluebell bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia

Clintonia borealis

Virginia springbeauty
Claytonia virginica

Blue mistflower
Conoclinium coelestinum

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Shield fern
Dryopteris carthusiana

White troutlily
Erythronium albidum

More Ferns Questions

Container plants for cool weather in Cypress TX
October 02, 2011 - I am a novice gardener and I am looking for some ideas on potted plants for the fall/winter. They would be covered by a roof, but still susceptible to the elements. What can be planted now that will...
view the full question and answer

Hanging Baskets for Batson, TX
May 23, 2014 - What plants can I put in hanging baskets for my shady porch?
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady sand in Florida
March 31, 2013 - We live in central Florida (directly between Orlando and Tampa). Our yard is mostly sand for soil and difficult parts in shade almost all day from large trees. What ground cover (grass) and hedges can...
view the full question and answer

Container plants for part shade in Bee Cave TX
June 18, 2013 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants, I am looking for plants that will thrive on my covered porch in 3 tall planters. These are meant to help me block an unattractive view out my living room window, so they must...
view the full question and answer

Poolside plants for East Texas
June 18, 2015 - What are the best plants, shrubs, ornamental trees, etc. for poolside planting in East Texas?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center