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

Sunday - July 28, 2013

From: Tulsa, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Rain Gardens, Water Gardens, Planting, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants for freestanding water in Oklahoma
Answered by: Guy Thompson


I have an overflowing gutter and the ground below becomes a muddy hole. I'd like to put a basin or pot in/or above the ground with a rain chain. Are there any plants--shrubs or otherwise that flourish in freestanding water? If so, would they grow well if I topped the soil with small rocks?


I am guessing that your problem area has freestanding water part time and mud otherwise.  If you  have a few hours of sun per day in that spot Louisiana iris would be a good choice.  It comes in a variety of nice colors, and the foliage is attractive even if there is not enough sun for good blooming.  Other plants worth considering include Iris virginica (Virginia iris), Iris brevicaulis (Zigzag iris), Equisetum hyemale var. affine (Scouringrush horsetail), Justicia americana (American water-willow), Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower), Iris cristata (Dwarf crested iris) and Viola sororia (Missouri violet).  I'm sure that the Louisiana iris and Scouringrush would do very well in a basin topped with small rocks.  Read the descriptions of the suggested species to see if they grow best under the exact conditions that you have.

These plants may be available at some of your local nurseries.  Here are some images of the suggested plants from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Image Gallery.



From the Image Gallery

Virginia iris
Iris virginica

Zigzag iris
Iris brevicaulis

Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale var. affine

American water-willow
Justicia americana

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Dwarf crested iris
Iris cristata

Missouri violet
Viola sororia

More Water Gardens Questions

Remake of church grotto in Highlands, TX
April 24, 2010 - I'm looking to reform our Church Grado. I would like some beautiful (fitting) flowers that are native to Texas. Low upkeep preferred. Possible some nice water flowers to put into waterways. Plan to a...
view the full question and answer

Winter tank pond care in Austin Texas
November 09, 2010 - Suggestions for winterizing a water garden in Austin Texas. Water contained in a 60 gallon aluminum horse tank. Garden contains papyrus, horsetail and water lily. There are no fish in the pond and no...
view the full question and answer

Tropical-looking landscape in Austin, TX
March 24, 2005 - I'd like to have a tropical-looking landscape in my front yard. What plants would you recommend for Austin, Texas? I would prefer plants that can stay outside year-round, but will take suggestions on...
view the full question and answer

Hungry turtles trample pond in Houston Texas
October 17, 2011 - I have a very large back yard pond (actually, a former swimming pool) that's home to a bullfrog, four Red-eared slider turtles, and scads of gambusia (little mosquito eating fish). I'd like to add n...
view the full question and answer

Plants for edge of intermittent stream
July 05, 2009 - I have a friend in Washington DC who is having runoff problems. She is having a drycreek installed. What kind of plants are native to her area that will withstand flash flood and intermittent dry co...
view the full question and answer

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