En Español

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - March 12, 2008

From: Mansfield, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Hardy, inexpensive perennials for Mansfield, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to fill two flowerbeds that are in full sun mostly and right next to the house. I want something that can live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and is pretty hardy. I also don't want to spend a lot of money to fill up the beds, this is a rental house. Any suggestions would be great.

ANSWER:

The first thing you want to do is choose plants that are native to that area, as those will need the least maintenance. Since native plants are already accustomed to the soils, rainfall, heat, cold, etc. of the area in which they grow, they will require less (or no) fertilizer, be more resistant to insects and disease and get along on the normal rainfall, or at least, less watering. Another variable is how long you plan to remain to enjoy the garden you are planning? Small flowering shrubs, and perennials that bloom fairly early in their life cycle will probably give you more satisfaction than bedding plant annuals, perhaps purchased already in bloom. And some evergreen plants chosen for their leaf color and texture will enhance the garden even when they are not in bloom. We're going to give you some suggestions and then show you how to browse our Native Plant Database to make alternative choices.

On our website, under "Explore Plants", there is a "Recommended Species" entry. We have recently added recommended native plant species for the separate areas of Texas, as it is so big and the ecologies in it are so varied.We went to the Recommended Species for North Central Texas and got 105 suggestions. However, some of these were trees, large shrubs, etc., which you obviously don't need in your situation. So, we clicked on "Narrow your Search", put in your requirements, and got 15 suggested perennial blooming plants. We chose 4 that are personal favorites, but you can do the same search and pick out others you prefer. Next, we went back to the same list of 105, and selected on "Shrubs," which gave 4 choices, only 2 of which we really like. So, we added "Grasses" to the list, got 8 suggestions and picked out 2. Grasses, while their blooms are not showy, are good space fillers, adding a different look and texture, and holding their places in the garden virtually year round.

Herbs (flowering plants)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Liatris elegans (pinkscale blazing star)

Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower)

Shrubs

Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena)

Salvia greggii (autumn sage)

Grasses

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Now, go to this Native Plant Suppliers list of Texas nurseries that specialize in native plants.There are five listed in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Having formerly lived in Arlington, we would personally recommend both King's Creek Gardens in Cedar Hill and Weston Gardens in east Fort Worth. You should be able to purchase small plants that you choose, and get them in the ground before Summer swoops down on us.


Asclepias tuberosa

Echinacea purpurea

Liatris elegans

Ratibida columnifera

Lantana urticoides

Salvia greggii



Bouteloua gracilis

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Propagation information from Queens NY
October 04, 2012 - Hello. I would appreciate information on when to plant the following plants. I found on the USDA website that all these plants could withstand the cold. ALthough they can withstand harsh weather, ...
view the full question and answer

Low Maintenance Grasses for Montgomery County, Texas
January 24, 2011 - I have to replace a dead lawn. Can you recommend a low maintenance, low water need grass seed for Spring, in Montgomery County, Texas
view the full question and answer

Grass lawn from Durham NC
October 08, 2013 - Durham, NC. Want to plant a small front grass lawn, full sun, dry. Willing to mow. Not good about watering. Advice?
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Cottage-style landscaping for Chesapeake VA
August 02, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plant staff, I recently moved into a cottage style home that has a poured concrete/paver patio. I am trying to come up with ideas for plantings that would 1. give me a bit of privacy,...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center