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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 - March 19, 2014

From: Missouri City, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Herbs/Forbs, Vines
Title: Native perennials for Missouri City, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I checked all the questions for my area and still need help. What are some native perennials for southeast Texas

ANSWER:

Let us walk you through using our Native Plant Database. Begin by going to Recommended Species. If you start with the homepage of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, you will see a strip of tabs across the top of the page - click on the Explore Plants tab. That will give you a list of resources, including Recommended Species, at the bottom of the list. Clicking on that will lead you to a map of the United States and Canada. You will note that two states - Caifornia and Texas - are subdivided on that map, because both are large and cover a number of different climates, soil types and rainfall. You can click on whatever state you are interested in and get a list of Recommended Species for that state. Since you are in subdivided Texas, you need to click on the area where you are gardening. Looking at that map, we feel Fort Bend County is on the edge of South Texas and Southeast Texas. Since you said you are in Southeast Texas, and you are in the Houston area, we are going to click on East Texas, which gave us this list of Recommended Species for East Texas. If you are not satisfied with that list, you can click on the South Texas portion of the state, and get this list.

We are assuming that by "perennials" you mean herbaceous blooming plants that return each year. We will begin by going to our Recommended Species, selecting on East Texas on the map of North America. Doing this gave us this list of 133 Texas Recommended Plants for North Central Texas. Using the selection list on the right-hand  side of that page, we selected on "Herb" under HABIT, "Perennial" under duration and clicked on NARROW YOUR SEARCH, which gave us this list of 36 blooming plants known to grow natively in your area. Since you did not give us the amount of sunlight the areas you would be planting will get, we will leave it to you to follow our plant links to our webpage on each plant and determine what works for you. If you wish you can add the Light Requirements to the Search.

To help you a little more, we are going to select 6 perennials from that list that Mr. Smarty Plants feels would work well for you. Then, those perennials will have to go through one more test - follow each plant link to our webpage on that list. Go down the resulting page to "ADDITIONAL RESOURCES" and click on "Find scientific name of plant in USDA Plants." This will take you first to a map of North America and Canada with the states and provinces where that plant is native in green. You would then click on Texas and get a map of the counties where that plant grows natively in green. You should be familiar with the shape of Ft. Bend County, right next to Harris County. Sometimes it will be green all around your county, but not in yours. This is a search for soils, climate and rainfall that are optimum for that plant, and if your county is not green but surrounded  by green, it just may mean it hasn't been reported to the USDA as growing there.

Okay, we will now demonstrate by selecting said 6 perennials and give you a link to the USDA Plant Profile Map on each. You should first follow the plant link to our webpage on it and look especially at GROWING CONDITIONS. If the area where you plan to plant your tree does not match those conditions (sun? shade? soil? ultimate predicted height?) then you should not consider it, because you have so many choices.

You will note on those webpages you will find colors, bloom times, projected mature size and pictures. There will also be additional references to other information, even books about the subject. When you make your own list, you can designate that you want yellow flowers that bloom in June and need sun  (6 hours or more of sun a day) or whatever characteristics you prefer. When you are done, you have your own personalized list with all the plants you require.

Perennials for Southeast Texas:

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow) USDA Plant Profile

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) USDA Plant Profile

Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower    USDA Plant Profile

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)  USDA Plant Profile

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)  USDA Plant Profile

Ipomopsis rubra (Standing cypress) USDA Plant Profile

Now, see, we got the promised 6 perennials, and only got to the I's, so there are a lot more in the Native Plant Database for you to choose from. You can use the same techiques to find trees, shrubs, vines, succulents, and so forth. Happy Gardening!

   
 

From the Image Gallery


Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Blue mistflower
Conoclinium coelestinum

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

Standing cypress
Ipomopsis rubra

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