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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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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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)

 

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