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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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Wednesday - April 11, 2012

From: Kansas City, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Shrubs
Title: Plant similar to forsythia for Kansas City KS
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I want to plant a plant very similar to Forsythia. I want it to be tall 4-5 ft tall. Need something that leaf changing, something besides burning bush.Former area rose beds 4 x 4 (two areas) Right beside screen front porch. What do you suggest?


We are always touched by the faith of our patrons in Mr. Smarty Plants' ability to reach into our vast store of gardening knowledge, and pull out the exact plant they have created in their minds. In the first place, "vast" is not the word we would use to describe our garden wisdom. Before we look for a plant that is "like" forsythia, we have to find out what forsythia is like. We would like to go to our Native Plant Database to get information, but since it is not native to North America, we can't do that.

For instance, we know that forsythia x intermedia is native to China, and will grow in Kansas. We found out that it blooms from late March to mid-April, for a period of about 2 weeks. It needs full sun or light shade, and well-drained soils with supplementary watering during hot, dry spells. Here is an Ohio State University article on Forsythia x intermedia for more information.

Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native to North America we well as to the areas where they grow naturally, we will go to our Native Plant Database, use the Combination Search, searching on Kansas for state, full sun to part shade under Light Requirements and moist soils under Soil Moisture. We'll even throw in yellow in Bloom  Color and March and April in Bloom Time, plus, of course, height of 3 to 6 feet tall under Size. Click on Submit Combination Search.

We got zero results. So, we'll be a little more reasonable, and make fewer specifications. We'll go with Kansas, shrub, full sun and part shade, and 3-6 feet tall. this gave us 16 results, from which we chose 6 that came close. Follow each plant link to our page on that plant to learn its characteristics. Then, having learned to use our database, you can go in and make your own searches or selections.


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