En Español

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

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
1 rating

Monday - April 22, 2013

From: W. Gilgo Beach, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Drought Tolerant, Erosion Control, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Long Island Barrier Beach Plants
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


I live on the south shore of Long Island on a barrier beach and am landscaping my property as a result of Sandy damage. I am going with a sand base, and I am looking for suitable trees and shrubs for the harsh environment (wind, salt, cold winters). I have pines and cedars. looking for other ideas. I appreciate your help in advance.


Ordinarily, the first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: New York, Habit – shrubs or trees, Duration – perennial, Light requirement – sand, Soil moisture – dry. Since the native plant search turned up close to 100 plants and more specific criteria are needed (salt and wind tolerance, for example), another resource to look at is an online presentation, “Seaside Plants for Coastal Area of Long Island Part 1” by Caroline Kiang, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County from the Long Island Horticulture Conference held January 28th, 2011. Part 2 of this presentation can also be found online.

This presentation lists plants that have been selected for tolerance to salt spray, wind, sandy soil and appropriate winter hardiness.

Some of the native trees and shrubs that Caroline Kiang recommended that you might consider from this presentation are:

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry)

Prunus serotina (black cherry)

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Baccharis halimifolia (groundseltree)

Morella pensylvanica (northern bayberry)

Prunus maritima (beach plum)

Rhus copallinum (winged sumac)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry)

Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heath)

Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper)

Crataegus crus-galli (cockspur hawthorn)

Photinia pyrifolia (red chokeberry)

Photinia melanocarpa (black chokeberry)

Clethra alnifolia (coastal sweet pepperbush)

Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)

Abies concolor (balsam fir)

Acer rubrum (red maple)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Nyssa sylvatica (blackgum)


From the Image Gallery

Prunus virginiana

Black cherry
Prunus serotina

Saskatoon serviceberry
Amelanchier alnifolia

Baccharis halimifolia

Winged sumac
Rhus copallinum

Staghorn sumac
Rhus typhina

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Cockspur hawthorn
Crataegus crus-galli

Red chokeberry
Photinia pyrifolia

Black chokeberry
Photinia melanocarpa

Coastal pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

White fir
Abies concolor

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Plants for a Austin thicket underlayer
July 25, 2014 - We live in Austin, west of 183. We are planning to put a thicket in our backyard, where there is no threat of deer. Anchoring the thicket are a clump of live oaks, a Texas persimmon, an Eve's Necklac...
view the full question and answer

Deer and Drought Resistant Natives for San Marcus, Texas
February 15, 2012 - Hi there, Do you have a list of plants and ground covers (deer/drought resistant) for the San Marcos area? Much as I love grass, it's impossible with this drought. I'd love to have lots of flowers ...
view the full question and answer

Native Trees for Pflugerville TX
September 28, 2013 - I'm looking for suggestions on native, drought tolerant conifers that can be located in a Pflugerville landscape under overhead electric lines. Open to Arizona Cypress, but concerned about the height...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Austin yard
March 08, 2012 - My main goal is to cover my yard with a "grass" or groundcover that can handle the Texas heat, predicted long drought and some dog paw traffic (without going dormant/brown in the winter). I don't n...
view the full question and answer

Native Plant for a Sunny South-facing House Wall in Tucson
March 01, 2014 - I have a problematic block wall on the south side of the house and I what a plant to soften the look of the wall. I tried butterfly bush which I'm told died from of bounce-back heat from the wall. I ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center