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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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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.

 
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Friday - March 22, 2013

From: Asheville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Seasonal Tasks, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Schedule for planting perennial wildflowers from Asheville NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

When is the best time to plant perennial wildflowers?

ANSWER:

The depends on where you garden and which perennial wildflowers you are interested in. The best way we know of to go about solving that problem is to go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search about the middle of that page, search on North Carolina for state, herbs (herbaceous blooming plants) for Habit, and perennial for Duration. You can follow each link to our webpage on that plant to find out its growing conditions, propagation suggestions, height, light requirements and see picures from our Image Gallery.When we searched that way, there were 991 plants that fit the specifications! So, we scanned through them looking for attractive wildflowers. You will note there were so many that we only got to "F", as they are listed alphabetically by scientific name.

Here is our list from that search: 

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow)

Antennaria plantaginifolia (Plantain-leaf pussytoes)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Asclepias incarnata (Swamp milkweed)

Caltha palustris (Yellow marsh marigold)

Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina springbeauty)

Coreopsis auriculata (Lobed tickseed)

Commelina erecta (Whitemouth dayflower)

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches)

Doellingeria umbellata var. umbellata (Flat-top aster)

Erythronium americanum (Yellow trout-lily)

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

From HGTV, Best Time to Plant Perennials:

"Early fall is a good time to plant larger sizes of perennials (if they are available) because the weather is cool and reduces stress on the top parts of the plants. The soil also stays warm and allows the roots to grow, helping the plants to get established in the landscape. In the spring when the plants come out of dormancy, they should perform better than if they were planted in the spring and asked immediately to bloom (in addition to rooting and becoming established). Note that smaller-sized plants from small pots may not root deeply enough to avoid heaving during the freeze-thaw cycles. However, planting larger plants in fall generally works well."

So, you see, we were kind of playing around with you, because we already knew that. But, in the course of answering your question, we introduced you to our Native Plant Database and taught you how to use it to find information about any native plant you are interested in. One further tip, if you want to be sure the plant you are interested in is native to your specific area, where you can be a little more confident of the soils, climate and rainfall the plant will flourish in, go to the bottom of the plant webpage and click on the link to the USDA Plant Profile on that plant. First you will get a map of North America with all the states where that plant grows natively in green, click on your state (North Carolina) and you will get a map with the counties of that state in green where the plant is reported to grow.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Woman's tobacco
Antennaria plantaginifolia

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Swamp milkweed
Asclepias incarnata

Yellow marsh marigold
Caltha palustris

Carolina springbeauty
Claytonia caroliniana

Lobed tickseed
Coreopsis auriculata

Whitemouth dayflower
Commelina erecta

Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

Flat-top aster
Doellingeria umbellata var. umbellata

Yellow trout-lily
Erythronium americanum

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

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