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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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Friday - June 06, 2014

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Shade Tolerant, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Container plant in difficult sun exposure from Leander TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

HELP!!!! I have a large Mexican terracotta pot on my front porch. This awkward area is facing westward, so receives the full dose of Texas sun after about 3 pm onward. Now here's the catch; my front porch is covered, so it also receives full shade til at least 3pm. I have tried several species that were recommended by my local garden center, but to no lasting avail. I would like something with a little height, say 3 foot round-ish. At this point, anything would help. I almost forgot, I have a drip irrigation system, so water would not be an issue.

ANSWER:

This member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team has a very similar problem. I live on the second floor of an apartment complex facing West. I have a small porch which is my sole outlet for gardening. Over some years of dealing with this type of problem, I have come to the decision that one of the most dependable choices in such a case is native Texas succulents. This does not mean you have to have thorny plants on your porch. All cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti.

These plants are not going to put out constant, conspicuos blooms in bright colors. But they also will not bloom and then quickly die because of blazing sun, reflected off a stucco wall behind them. There are some succulents, like agave, that will save up energy for years to bloom spectacularly and then die. Most of them are not plants you would want children playing with or pets chewing on, but they are almost architectural in shape, usually evergreen and conversation pieces. We are going to list some of the ones we have on our porch right now; follow each link to the webpage on that plant for care, planting, etc. Just as a side note, many succulents, native and non-native, can be purchased at most plant outlets. Those on my porch were all purchased from the Lady Bird Johnson Wilflower Center semi-annual Plant Sales. We also suggest you read our How to Article Container Gardening with Native Plants.

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Euphorbia antisyphilitica (Candelilla)

Hechtia texensis (Texas false agave)

Hechtia glomerata (Guapilla)

Manfreda variegata (Mottled tuberose)

Manfreda maculosa (False aloe)

Manfreda sileri (Siler's tuberose)

Manfreda virginica (False aloe)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

Candelilla
Euphorbia antisyphilitica

Texas false agave
Hechtia texensis

Guapilla
Hechtia glomerata

Mottled tuberose
Manfreda variegata

False aloe
Manfreda maculosa

Siler's tuberose
Manfreda sileri

False aloe
Manfreda virginica

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