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?


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
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 the blooming stalk of my century plant eventually tip over? Yes
June 24, 2009 - I have a century plant in bloom. Will the stalk eventually tip over? Would appreciate any Internet references on the subject.
view the full question and answer

Tropical-looking landscape in Austin, TX
March 24, 2005 - I'd like to have a tropical-looking landscape in my front yard. What plants would you recommend for Austin, Texas? I would prefer plants that can stay outside year-round, but will take suggestions on...
view the full question and answer

Problems on Prickly Pear Cactus in Illinois
November 19, 2014 - I have a fungus on my prickly pear cactus that is not a bug. I tested it and my fingers didn't turn red when I squeezed them. So how do I get rid of this as it is spreading to my other cacti?
view the full question and answer

How to remove plume from Yucca elephantipes in NJ?
August 02, 2011 - In Manahawkin, NJ, how do we cut plume (2" diameter) off 10' Yucca elephantipes?
view the full question and answer

What to do with agave after it blooms from Phoenix AZ
March 12, 2013 - Hello! I have 2 century plants in the process of blooming. How exciting!! I've never really seen it before. Anyway, what do I then do with the dying/dead plant. Simply dig it up and trash it? T...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center