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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 28, 2013

From: Virginia Beach, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Wildflowers
Title: Wet adapted plants for Virginia Beach VA
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


I live in Virginia Beach, VA on Lynnhaven waterway (leads into Chesapeake bay, but at my point is more brackish). I've recently removed/contained bamboo with concrete and metal barriers and now want to put some plants into the very moist dirt along side of water. There is riprap and a bulkhead, but it's not a dry area, as there's some water draining down from the yard that keeps this area moist. What plants would you recommend? I prefer flowering. Someone recommended pitcher plants and marsh marigolds as well as other "pond plants". Help. Thank you.


Mr Smarty Plants took a deep dive into the archives to look for an answer to your question [and only part of that was napping!]

Your friends suggestions aren't bad.  Caltha palustris (Yellow marsh marigold) has a pleasant flower and grows well in wet environments.  Sarracenia purpurea (Purple pitcherplant) is also well adapted, but doesn't strike me as the optimal yard plant.

 My general approach to finding good suggestions is to review questions that have come my way before [and their answers!] and to compare those to the suggestions of the Wildflower Centers “Recommended Species” list for Virginia.  Your request though – Is for plants that thrive in a wet environment [which might even include salt water] and are preferably flowering. That full combination has not come up before!

There were a number of questions that looked at wet or fully aquatic plants:
Riverbank retention in VA  
Plants for wet soil in turtle enclosure in Virginia  
Planting times for aquatic plants from Winston Salem NC 
Retention pond from Hendersonville NC  
Native plants for restoring a North Carolina pond site 

And I was lucky enough to find a little bit of information to help sort out which are better in a salty environment:
Salt and wind tolerant plants for small containers in NC 
Salt tolerant plants for Long Beach   
Plants for property in Connecticut adjacent to a salt marsh

Using all of these suggestions, and then tying them back to the recommended species list for Virginia and checking out the blooms gives these suggestions [and a lot of information above for you to consider if you’d like to continue this chain of thought].

Flowers that made both the wetland recommendations and the Virginia "Recommended Species" list include:    Phlox divaricata (Wild blue phlox) and  Viburnum dentatum (Southern arrowwood) 

Well suited plants, from the wetland recommendations include:
Groundcovers:   Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit), Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot), Fragaria vesca (Woodland strawberry)
Flowering Herbs: Viola cucullata (Blue marsh violet), Iris virginica var. shrevei (Shreve's iris), Limonium carolinianum (Carolina sealavender), Solidago sempervirens (Seaside goldenrod), Teucrium canadense (Canada germander)Phlox paniculata (Fall phlox), and Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush blueberry),


From the Image Gallery

Wild blue phlox
Phlox divaricata

Southern arrowwood
Viburnum dentatum

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Woodland strawberry
Fragaria vesca

Fall phlox
Phlox paniculata

Marsh blue violet
Viola cucullata

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Propagation of Baptisia from Lancaster OH
August 24, 2012 - My Baptisia has gone to seed. When can I plant these seeds? Do they need strat? (zone 5)
view the full question and answer

Combining yellow columbine and Malvaviscus arboreus
March 07, 2008 - Can yellow columbine coexist peacefully with Malvaviscus arboreus? I have a nice stand of the former and would like to plant the latter to take over when the columbine starts to look ratty in the hea...
view the full question and answer

Chile pequin not ripening to red from Marlborough MA
September 14, 2012 - I have a healthy Chile Pequin in Marlborough, MA, flowering and fruiting profusely. But, the fruit are not ripening to red, as did their parent plants in Florida. Fruit go from green to deep purple ...
view the full question and answer

Insects attacking Gregg's Blue Mistflower from Comfort TX
June 20, 2013 - I have a beautiful stand of Gregg's Blue Mist flower that have been attacked by an unknown insect. The new growth is curled and stunted and it is not flowering. I'm not alone..I've seen the Gregg'...
view the full question and answer

Showy Low Growing Perennial for Michigan
June 03, 2013 - I have been looking for a native perennial that would do well in full sun and moist to dry soil. It would have to be at most 2.5' tall and have showy pink, purple, or red flowers. Is there such a pla...
view the full question and answer

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