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
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

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)

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Scale on Agave attenuata from Melbourne, Australia
January 27, 2011 - I have an agave attenuata in a pot. It has been attacked by scales. I have been spraying it every 3-4 days at night with a chemical sold to me by the local gardening store. It's not helping and I am...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage on Barrel Cactus in Llano TX
March 04, 2011 - I believe my barrel cactus has freeze damage. The flesh turned yellow and is now turning dark. The base is still green. If I cut off the damaged top portion, leaving the green base, should it survive?...
view the full question and answer

Care of Spanish Dagger (Yucca treculeana) after blooming
May 27, 2007 - I live in Austin and have a 5 ft spanish dagger in my backyard. Now that it has bloomed and the flowers have withered in May, should I cut off the center stalk or will it bloom again from the same st...
view the full question and answer

Opuntia drooping in Austin, TX
September 02, 2015 - I planted an optunia spp. in March. It has nearly tripled in size. This week, I noticed the entire plant has started to droop. Temperatures have been very high with no rain for weeks. The cactus is...
view the full question and answer

Root depth of opuntia
May 15, 2007 - What can you tell me about the depth of roots of the opuntia? Does it vary with different varieties or is there formula to estimate the depth according to the mature size or to the culture - garden ...
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