En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Plants for a sunny, sandy site in Central Texas
January 22, 2015 - I live between La Grange and Schulenburg, Texas. My soil is sandy. Full sun, no trees. I am a senior citizen with limited funds who is allergic to Rye and Bermuda grass. I tried planting a lawn of...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for golf courses from Austin
October 06, 2013 - I may be working on two different golf courses and wanted to know if any native or hybrid native grasses would work for the fairways and rough areas? The rough areas are no problem as a number of ...
view the full question and answer

Native, low maintenance lawn for Rowley MA
September 11, 2013 - I am in Northeastern (coastal) Massachusetts and I am looking to replace my (currently high maintenance, water intensive, invasive species) lawn with a native, low maintenance species (or mix). Many o...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade, poor soil in Park Ridge NJ
June 17, 2010 - Hello! I live in far northeast New Jersey, by the New York state border. I am looking for plants for areas of my lawn that nothing currently grows in - due to shade and poor soil quality - very rocky,...
view the full question and answer

Speed of bluestem grass spreading in Georgia red clay from Dallas GA
May 13, 2012 - How fast does bluestem spread in Georgia red clay?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center