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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

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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Saturday - September 10, 2011

From: Waynesville, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Water Gardens, Wildlife Gardens, Wildflowers
Title: Wildflowers for a pond in MO
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I have a spring fed pond in Missouri and would like to plant perennial wildflowers in the area around it. Are there any that would do better or others that are not recommended? Thank you.

ANSWER:

How lucky you are to have a pond on your property! Planting native wildflowers, grasses and shrubs will bring your garden to life with birds and butterflies who appreciate it as much as you do.

As you plan your garden, you will find the National Wildlife Federation Website and a publication by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, "The Wildlife Gardener's Guide" both very helpful.  You can't go wrong if you mimic Mother Nature and observe the plants at the water's edge in a natural area or park near you. It is also a good idea to check out the water gardening section of your local nursery and borrow books from the library on the subject. 

You can then check whether the recommended plants are native to your area by visiting our Native Plant Database. Doing a Combination Search for Missouri will generate lists of plants that are native to your area. You will also select plant type (herb - herbaceous perennial for wildflowers), light conditions (you don't mention whether the site is sunny or shady), moisture conditions (you will want to select moist or wet to differentiate between plants right in the water and those further from the water's edge).  You can also narrow your search to sort by size and bloom time and color.  The lists of plants have links to detailed information pages.  The native habitat information in these entries will be most helpful in finding plants for your situation.

For example, when doing the search and selecting only moist and wet conditions but not narrowing for anything else, a list of 393 plants is generated.  The first on that list is Acorus calamus (Calamus), which could be a good choice, depending on the size of your pond.  Its entry states: Native Habitat: Pond borders; wet places.  Read each entry carefully, as some native wetland plants like Typha latifolia (Broadleaf cattail) can be too aggressive for a garden pond and other beauties like Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) are frustratingly shortlived in a garden environment and need to be replaced regularly.

Once you have narrowed the search criteria according to your conditions and preferences, the list will not be so long and overwhelming.  You can repeat the search and create lists of grasses, shrubs and trees to complete your project.

Here are a few more to try:

Chelone glabra (White turtlehead)

Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus (Trumpetweed)

Iris virginica (Virginia iris)

Nymphaea odorata (American white waterlily)

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Sweetflag
Acorus americanus

Broadleaf cattail
Typha latifolia

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

White turtlehead
Chelone glabra

Joe-pye weed
Eutrochium fistulosum

Virginia iris
Iris virginica

American white water-lily
Nymphaea odorata

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