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What to Plant


Illustration by Christine Berrie  

First, a few basic tips from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Melanie Sifton: When planning a New York City garden, assume it’s getting less sun than you think, because your building and its neighbors throw a lot of shade. Consider native plants; by definition, they can handle our soils and weather. Take a hard look at how green your thumb is, and choose accordingly. Here, some planting suggestions.

Plunk It Down:

1. Sunflowers
(Helianthus annuus)
One of only a few native annuals, Sifton says. Mostly, they just need (yep) sun.

2. Purple Coneflower
(Echinacea purpurea)
Another local, this perennial grows fast and lasts through fall.

3. Clematis
(Clematis virginiana) and
4. American Wisteria
(Wisteria frutescens)
Two vines that’ll scale pretty much anything.

5. Black-Eyed Susans
(Rudbeckia hirta)
Great for novice gardeners, these yellow flowers are easy to grow and thrive in tough conditions.

6. Impatiens
(Impatiens walleriana)
A regular in flower beds planted under sidewalk trees. Likes shade.

Needs TLC:

7. Peonies
(Paeonia)
Spectacular, easy-to-care-for flowers, but blooms for just a few spring weeks. Planting is tricky: Bed them down too deep, and they won’t flower.

8. Lobelia
(Lobelia erinus)
Requiring reliably water-rich soil and loads of sun, but oh, the gorgeous blossoms! Great for containers and boxes.

9. Spring Ephemerals
A class of perennial wildflowers with diva-esque tendencies, they have a short time to establish themselves and bloom, and need tons of water. Once in, they’re fairly easy to tend.


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