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

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

Scouring-rush 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

Plants for swan food
July 03, 2012 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants, I have a farm in VA with a large pond or lake fenced in. I am rescuing a pair of swan and want to grow plants around the fence and pond that they can eat. Could you suggest an...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native bi-color iris from Spring Branch TX
August 18, 2011 - Bi colored iris. I have four plants planted around our water feature last fall. Up until recently they all looked very healthy, yet not blooming. Several weeks ago I noticed that two of the plants ...
view the full question and answer

The origin of Juncus effusus var. Big Twister
May 04, 2008 - Juncus effusus, var. 'Big Twister' We're trying to figure out the nativity of this thing, and whether it is safe to plant in our very wet rain garden. Thank you for any assistance...
view the full question and answer

Plants for area around a fountain in full sun near Dallas
May 19, 2010 - I'm seeking advice on what I can plant around the base of a fountain, in full sun, that can tolerate the fountain water splash/spray. I'm seeking something that can be maintained to a maximum h...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating Najas flexilis from a pond
December 22, 2014 - What method would be effective in eliminating Najas Flexilis from a pond?
view the full question and answer

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