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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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Sunday - March 02, 2008

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Suggested native plants for Katy, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants I recently moved to Katy, Tx (just outside of Houston) and I would like to know what type of plants and flowers are best for this type of climate. The soil in my flower beds seems to have a lot of clay. I have 2 large oak trees in my backyard so I would also like information on flowers and plants that thrive in shade. The area in the backyard that is not completely shaded is partial sun/shade. My flower bed in the front yard is mostly sun during the day and shaded toward evening time.

ANSWER:

You're in luck! We have a Recommended Species List for East Texas that lists 133 commercially available plants, including trees, shrubs and flowers, that will do well in your area. Katy, however, is not altogether an East Texas ecology, so we also took a look at the Recommended Species List for Central Texas. This gave us a list of 155 plants which should do well in Central Texas. A lot of these plants from the two lists are going to be the same, and probably a plant from one list would be okay in either area. You might also be interested to know that Katy is located in a vegetational area called the Post Oak Savannah, which is a transitional area between the Pineywoods and the Blackland Prairies, which means you are probably correct that your soil is pretty much clay, and also is why we are recommending plants from both East Texas and Central Texas.

Next, we went to our Native Plant Database, which, in the "Combination Search" gives us an opportunity to search for specific plants on the criteria of state (Texas, what else?), Habit (herb, shrub, tree), Duration (annual, perennial), sun exposure, and moisture in the soil. This gives you an opportunity to check on plants that may be recommended for your area. When you look at a list, you can click on the scientific name and it will take you to a webpage with more complete information on the plant, such as soils that it grows well in, and ways to propagate it. We're going to give you two sample lists; one of plants that should do well in the shade of the oak trees, and one of plants needing 6 hours or more of sun a day for the bed in your front yard. By using our various databases, you can tailor your garden selections to your own preferences and the specific areas you wish to plant. Please remember that our lists are only a very small sample; you will have a large number of plants from which to choose your favorites for color, size, blossom time, etc.

Finally, go to our Plant Suppliers list of nurseries that carry native plants in Texas; there are 38 nurseries on this list and several are in the Houston area. More nurseries all the time are starting to carry native plants, you are not necessarily restricted to those on the list.

FLOWERING PLANTS FOR 6 OR MORE HOURS OF SUN A DAY

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Conoclinium greggii (palmleaf thoroughwort)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

FLOWERING PLANTS FOR 2 TO 6 HOURS OF SUN A DAY

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Ruellia caroliniensis (Carolina wild petunia)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)


Asclepias tuberosa

Conoclinium greggii

Coreopsis lanceolata

Echinacea purpurea

Aquilegia canadensis

Monarda fistulosa

Ruellia caroliniensis

Lobelia cardinalis

 

 

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