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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native plants for Pflugerville, TX in blackland soil

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Friday - March 21, 2008

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Rare or Endangered Plants, Compost and Mulch, Trees
Title: Native plants for Pflugerville, TX in blackland soil
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. S-P, I'm perusing the plant sale list for a couple of tall shrubs to plant on the sunny southwest side of my house, in Blackland soil. It is generally dry there because of the sun, but can get soggy from roof runoff in a monsoon such as last summer's. I have lost both rhus virens and cenizo in that location from too much rain. Well-established in that bed are rhus aromatica, lonicera sempervirens, ilex decidua, Eysenhardtia texana, salvia greggii, and muhlenbergia dubia (it's a long, narrow space). I am considering Philadelphus ernestii, Bauhinia lunarioides, Cercocarpus montanus, Cordia boissier, or Mimosa borealis. The location has morning shade, hot mid-day sun, and a little shade in the very late afternoon. If I build the soil up and incorporate granite sand, would I have luck with any of the above-listed plants? I want something at least 4 feet tall.

ANSWER:

Thank you for being interested in our annual Plant Sale and for going so far as to research the plants on sale. Generally speaking, you can count on the plants sold there doing okay in this area. That's what we specialize in at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center sales, plants that we know can be grown here because they ARE being grown here. We do understand your considering adding something like granite sand or decomposed granite to the soil, as all these plants seem to be found in nature in rocky, limestone areas. Obviously, you need to amend the soil or raise the level of the bed for drainage from your roof. You might consider that those plants grow where they do in the wild because that's what there is, rocky soil. They all need good drainage, true, but perhaps raising the level of the bed, and adding compost for drainage might be just as effective. Another suggestion is just not to try raising plants that are basically desert plants in an area that is going to get drenched when there is rain, like we had last year, or at least installing some guttering.

Philadelphus ernestii (canyon mock orange) In the wild, this plant is considered rare and needing protection. It will adapt to different conditions, but does need some shade and a protected location.

Bauhinia lunarioides (Texasplume) This plant is rare in the wild in Texas; it is winter hardy in Austin but farther north needs to be planted in a protected, south-facing location.

Cercocarpus montanus (alderleaf mountain mahogany) This is considered a Chihuahuan desert plant, but apparently can adapt to different conditions.

Cordia boissieri (anacahuita) This is rarely found in the wild, but is considered a good flowering tree to have in the landscape near a house, as its roots are not too intrusive. The fruit attracts birds and other wildlife, but is not recommended for human consumption.

Mimosa borealis (fragrant mimosa) Grows in the brushy, limestone areas of the Trans-Pecos.


Philadelphus ernestii

Bauhinia lunarioides

Cercocarpus montanus

Cordia boissieri

Mimosa borealis

 

 

 

 

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