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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - March 12, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Native plants for highlights in a cactus garden
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hi, I'm looking for some groundcover (succulents or herbs), shrubs, and other perennials to plant along with the cactuses (20 or so) I got from the CDRI plant sale in Fort Davis. The most important specification is that the plants should grow to be no 3.5 feet wide or 4 feet tall. Of course, if it's possible to occasionally prune it to these dimensions, and it looks fairly natural, I'm happy to consider the plant. (I'm really not a terribly active landscaper though.) Also, I'd like plants that are native (or, at the least, well-adapted) to the Trans-Pecos or Edwards Plateau areas. I'm pretty much already sold on the diamantina and blackfoot daisy, and would also like other suggestions that would bring color, smells, and wildlife to my cactus garden in the narrow strip between my sidewalk and the street. Note: My garden will be designed to be a well-drained area that is not watered very often.


First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants suggests that you visit the Recommended Species page where you can select a list of Central Texas Recommended species or a list of West Texas Recommended species. Since your cactus garden is going to be in Austin, however, your best bet is to focus on those plants on the Central Texas Recommended species list. In some cases, the two lists will overlap.

Here are a few plants from the Central Texas Recommended list (and a couple not on it) that seem especially suitable to accompany the stars of your cactus garden:

Calylophus berlandieri ssp. pinifolius (Berlandier's sundrops)

Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata (partridge pea)

Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena)

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita)

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

Sedum nuttallianum (yellow stonecrop)

Senna roemeriana (twoleaf senna)

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy)


More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Will Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri thrive in caliche soil?
December 02, 2014 - I live on a high hill in the Hamilton Pool area outside of Austin. I am looking to plant a Dasylirion wheeleri that I grew from seed collected in New Mexico aria East Of Soccoro. I am wondering if the...
view the full question and answer

When should cochineal bugs be on prickly pear cactus?
January 05, 2012 - I am a fibers artist that would like to harvest the cochineal bugs from the prickly pear cactus. I would like to know what time of year should I expect to find the cochineal bugs around the Austin ar...
view the full question and answer

Possibly non-native succulent identification
March 27, 2008 - My mother has a plant that grows on a stalk, 2.5' tall, leaves are about 4-5" on the mature plant. The leaves are scalloped on the edges and seeds grown in the scallops & fall off and make new plan...
view the full question and answer

Night-Blooming Cereus not Blooming
September 04, 2014 - I have a plant called a night-blooming cereus, which during the warm season, is supposed to have blooms that come out at night and close up but don't fall off when morning approaches. But my cereus h...
view the full question and answer

Replacements for yuccas from Georgetown TX
August 07, 2013 - I have lost some softleaf and variegated yucca to a beetle grub destroying the root system - like the Agave snout beetle does. I have put an insecticidal drench on my remaining plants, but suspect wi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center