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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.

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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 - January 07, 2005

From: Old Forge, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Sources of cold hardy, native wildflowers in upstate New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We are looking for the best wildflower varieties with some challenging requirements. First, we need cold hardy varieties. We are in USDA area 5 in upstate NY. Second, our lot is by a lake bordered by pine trees, so the soil is very acid. Any recommendations on supplies of the north hardy varieties would be helpful too.


In the Native Plants Database on the Wildflower Center's web you can use the Advanced Search mode to search for flowers that are native to New York using a variety of criteria, e.g., Bloom Characteristics, Growth Form, etc. This will give you a list of flowers with thumbnail sketches. When you see one that appeals to you, select it and you will get a page with information about the plant. At the top of the information page is a menu bar listing several choices: Taxonomy, Benefits, Bloom, Growing Conditions, etc. If you choose Growing Conditions, you can determine the soil pH preferred by the plant. For instance, Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is a perennial herb that grows in New York and prefers moist, acidic soil.

From our northern neighbors in Canada you can see a web site called Northern Ontario Wildflowers. It has pictures and descriptions of wildflowers that grow there and arranges them in five different habitats: deciduous, coniferous, wetland, meadow, and wasteland.

You can find suppliers of native plants in your area on the Wildflower Center web page by selecting "Explore Plants" from the side bar and then choosing "Suppliers Directory". You will then be able to search "Nurseries" and/or "Seed Companies" for suppliers of native plants in your state or region.

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