Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?

Share

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

Saturday - April 18, 2009

From: Birmingham, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Native plants for southwest side of house in Birmingham, AL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to know what I can plant on the southwest side of my house where there is a brick foundation and is really hot in the summer. I've tried irises and day lilies-not good. Suggestions?

ANSWER:

There are several members of the Iris genus that are native to Alabama, including Iris brevicaulis (zigzag iris), Iris cristata (dwarf crested iris) and Iris fulva (copper iris). However, it's more likely you have bearded iris, or Iris germanica in your garden. Extensively hybridized over the years, they originated in central and southern Europe, but have been grown in North American gardens extensively. The daylily, genus Hemerocallis, is native to Asia and, like the Iris, has been cross-bred and hybridized until they are very unlike their forbears. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Since your plants are probably so changed from their origins, there is no way of knowing whether their failure to thrive has anything to do with where they originally came from. What we do know is that plants native to your area and selected for sun and probably dry soil will be more likely to survive the extreme conditions you describe. 

We are assuming that you want herbaceous blooming plants, perennials, so that is what we are going to look for in our Recommended Species for Alabama. These plants are all commercially available, and if you have difficulty finding them, you can go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box; you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. Follow each plant link to the page on that individual plant and find out what size they are, when and what color they bloom, and how much water they normally need. Since they are natives, you will find they need less water, fertilizer and maintenance. 

Herbaceous blooming perennials for Alabama

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Hibiscus coccineus (scarlet rosemallow)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies)

Penstemon digitalis (talus slope penstemon)


Achillea millefolium

Asclepias tuberosa

Conoclinium coelestinum

Echinacea purpurea

Hibiscus coccineus

Lobelia cardinalis

Oenothera speciosa

Penstemon digitalis

 

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Gaura Plants Dying In PA
July 16, 2014 - I had six gaura plants. They were beautiful last year. Now I have one that is doing well and the others are dying slowly one at a time. I don't understand this. They are on a slight slope and have ...
view the full question and answer

Overwintering a Juncus effusus in Great Neck, NY
October 23, 2008 - Can I over winter a juncus effusus spiralis indoors or must it be kept outdoors? Whether indoors or outdoors, what is the proper way to keep it alive during the winter months?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Woodcreek TX
January 27, 2012 - I would like to attach a photo of a weed in my lawn and have you identify it. How do I send a photo? I have been told it may be ground ivy. Please tell me how to kill it without damaging the lawn.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plant to cover parents' graves in Louisiana
June 30, 2013 - We want to plant ground cover on our parents graves in Plain Dealing Cemetery in north Bossier Parish LA. Soil is red clay/dirt. Want native plant, slow growing, short not tall plant, that might sta...
view the full question and answer

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.