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 - May 26, 2010

From: Kents Store, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Balancing bloom in beds in Kents Store VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our beds along a walkway in rural Central VA have replanted themselves - oenethera speciosa and dwarf yarrow have abandoned the north bed and are flourishing in the south bed. Sedums, lavender and candytuft seem to like both sides. The overall results are very unbalanced. We have poor clay soil, alkaline, some drought in the summer. What can we do to get some taller native flowers to grow on the north side of our walkway?

ANSWER:

We don't seem to have enough information to answer your question, so we'll do some speculating. You have to figure out what is different between the two beds. Does one have more shade than the other, or less opportunity for irrigation or does water sometimes stand on one bed and not the other? If we understand you correctly, all the plants you named started out in both beds. In the Spring, 2 plants, the oenethera and the yarrow, didn't come up in the north bed. It's not that the plants in the north bed migrated, they just failed to re-emerge in the north bed when Spring came.

Good in the south bed but not in the north bed:

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies) - needs full sun (6 or more hours of sun a day) and moist soil, native to your area

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) - sun or part shade, can withstand dry soil, prefers moist, native to your area

Good in both beds:

Sedum ternatum (woodland stonecrop) - sun or part shade, moist soil, native to your area

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) - full sun, native to Africa, Asia, Europe

Lavender - native to the Meditteranean area, likes dry, sunny area

It looks to us like there was/is more shade than the plants that failed to come up in the north bed could withstand. Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower will only recommend plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown, we will find some native blooming plants that are okay with part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) or shade (2 hours or less of sun a day.) You can follow each native plant link to its database page to learn about its culture, light requirements, colors and so forth.  If both beds have full sun, you will have to examine other factors that might be different, going back to Recommended Species, clicking on Virginia on the map, and then selecting herbs (herbaceous blooming plants), perennial in Lifespan, sun in Light Requirements, and then Narrow Your Search. If you wish to change the Light Requirements or put in the soil moisture, that will narrow your choice down even more. 

Herbaceous Blooming Plants for part shade or shade in Virginia:

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Caltha palustris (yellow marsh marigold)

Campanula rotundifolia (bluebell bellflower)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Gentiana clausa (bottle gentian)

Iris versicolor (harlequin blueflag)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Oenothera speciosa

Achillea millefolium

Sedum ternatum

Aquilegia canadensis

Asclepias tuberosa

Caltha palustris

Campanula rotundifolia

Conoclinium coelestinum

Coreopsis lanceolata

Gentiana clausa

Iris versicolor

Lobelia cardinalis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native replacement for Mexican heather in Llano, TX
April 24, 2009 - Please suggest a native or adaptable alternative plant for Mexican Heather.
view the full question and answer

Plants for pavilion over fountain in Washington State
December 26, 2008 - I have a tall fountain in a 7 foot square which is surrounded by pavers. Inside the 7' square there is about a 2' mulched soil bed around the center fountain and an iron type pavilion that goes up h...
view the full question and answer

Drought stressed wooly butterflybush in Atlanta, TX
September 24, 2011 - My butterfly bush is dead looking from the drought. Do you think there is a chance it just went dormant and will return next year. I am still putting water on it. I believe it is a white wooly butterf...
view the full question and answer

Plant Database for New Jersey
February 19, 2015 - How can I find out where certain plants will grow, for example, will Indian Mustard (Brassica juncea L.) grow in New Jersey?
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive henbit from Round Rock TX
April 27, 2013 - I've read in this book "Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants" that Henbit is an invasive plant in Texas. I've also read that it provides an early source of nectar to bees and butterflies when li...
view the full question and answer

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