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

Wednesday - August 26, 2009

From: arlington heights, IL
Region: Select Region
Topic: Pruning, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Fragrant foundation plants for sunny, dry area in Illinois
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

We need suggestions of what to plant on the south side of our house heave sun and rather dry soil. We just took out old dead bushes. Would prefer something that flowers and smells nice that would grow about 3-4 feet high.

ANSWER:

Searching fragrant perennial shrubs and herbaceous plants for those compatible with full sun, dry soil, at 3-4 feet high yielded the list below. You may want to compromise on the fragrance or the size to increase the options. Note that fragrance may come from the flowers of a plant or the leaves/needles. 

Ribes aureum (golden currant) is a deciduous 3-6 ft. shrub adaptable to most sites. Yellow blossoms turn orange as they age and yield a spicy fragrance and berries that are red, yellow, or black. Hummingbirds and butterflies find the blossoms attractive. Familiar native roses at 2-5 ft. may be to your liking. All are deciduous, forming dense mounds with white to pink blossoms maturing to colorful red hips. While Rosa acicularis (prickly rose) is thorny, Rosa blanda (smooth rose) is less prickly. (Images available on Google.) Though  Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) is prickly and stands only 1-3 ft. tall, it is a common landscape choice and has lovely 2 in. pink blossoms. 

You may consider pruning a shrub that threatens to be taller than you wish. With that in mind, these taller fragrant shrubs are mentioned. Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) is known as "forsythia of the north" for its early tiny yellow fragrant blossoms. This fast-growing deciduous shrub ranges between 6-12 ft. high, offers red berries in late summer and yellow fall foliage. Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac) is a sprawling, fast-growing foundation shrub ranging between 3-8 ft. tall. Spring brings yellowish fragrant catkins before the aromatic foliage appears. There will be fall leaf colors and dark red berries providing food for winter birds.

Lacking the fragrance you desire, but ranging between 3-4 ft tall are Amelanchier stolonifera (running serviceberry) (images available on Google) and Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil), a popular landscape plant.

Some perennial herbaceous plants may fit in your space. Take a look at Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot), Pycnanthemum incanum (hoary mountainmint), Artemisia frigida (prairie sagewort), and Juniperus communis (common juniper) . All have minty or spicy smelling foliage.

A list of shrubs native to Illinois may be helpful for you to browse on your own. Using plants native to your area will provide natural beauty with easier maintenance and increased pest resistance. Consult your nursery purveyor also for native plant suggestions for your site. Suppliers for Illinois may be found at this site


Ribes aureum

Rosa acicularis

Rosa carolina

Lindera benzoin

Rhus aromatica

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Monarda fistulosa

Pycnanthemum incanum

Artemisia frigida

Juniperus communis

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Plants for full sun and clay soil in NY
May 06, 2008 - We live in upstate new york( zone 5) with full sun and clay soil. What flowers/flowering shrubs would be successful in this environment?
view the full question and answer

Death of lantana in Bryan TX
March 28, 2013 - I would like to know what killed several new gold lantana in a single bed that died over the winter. They looked quite healthy last fall. I have several other new gold lantana that survived the wint...
view the full question and answer

Plants that are deer resistant for high desert climate in Utah
January 23, 2008 - We are building in a high desert climate in Dammeron Valley, Utah. We want plants that are both deer resistant and require little watering. Can you advise which plants (shrubs, flowers, cacti) that ...
view the full question and answer

Using non-native Red-Tip Photinia as a mulch from Pittsburg TX
March 23, 2011 - Wondering if its ok to use Red Tip Phontinia as a mulch? thanks
view the full question and answer

Spring care for Garrya ovata from Pflugerville, TX
February 24, 2014 - Hello again, Mr. S-P, I planted a Mexican silktassel in April 2012 (purchased at the WFC). It has done well, but the leaves are bronzed and splotchy from this winter's freezes. All the stems are...
view the full question and answer

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