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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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Friday - July 27, 2007

From: Baltimore, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Blue plants or flowers in Baltimore, MD
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a taxi company in the city called Bluecab. The headquarters is in an industrial area and the soil is tough and well, industrial. There will be no watering or maintenance done. Looks like a car dealership. Has islands for wild flowers around the parking pads. Think super commercial. What should be planted to look good and also bluish and choke out the weeds that are there. Its not always dry here but it can be.

ANSWER:

You've definitely given Mr. Smarty Plants a tough assignment. First of all, you need to realize that whatever you plant, no matter how tough and drought resistant it is, will need some initial watering and care until it has established its root system. That said, here are a few recommendations. This sounds like an ideal place for Juniperus communis (common juniper). It is also called "prostrate juniper" and grows low and spreads out over the ground. It is evergreen and, although its foliage is green, it will have bluish-black berries on it. You could add some hearty perennial wildflowers with blue and/or purple flowers around the juniper such as:

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage)

Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve (smooth blue aster)

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (aromatic aster)

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Dakota mock vervain)

Here are some possibilities for plants with bluish-green or silvery green foliage that are hearty and require little care:

Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush)

Elaeagnus commutata (silverberry)

Heliotropium curassavicum (salt heliotrope)

Finally, if you would like a green grass-like plant, a good choice is Carex texensis (Texas sedge) which also grows in Maryland, despite its name.


Juniperus communis

Lupinus perennis

Salvia lyrata

Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Artemisia ludoviciana

Elaeagnus commutata

Heliotropium curassavicum

Carex texensis

 

 

 

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