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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 - February 09, 2005

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Ferns, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Texas native plants for cemetery site
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am trying to landscape my mothers gravesite located in far East Texas (just outside of Nacogdoches) and I am looking for some evergreen bushes or any other decorative plants for that area. I am thinking now of lining the whole site with some sort of monkey grass and possibly some Texas Sage. I am looking for something around the headstone as well as some possible groundcover. Can you give me any guidance for such a task? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Most cemeteries have some landscaping guidelines so the first thing you need to learn is whether there are guidelines, or restrictions, about what you can plant there. The Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) sounds like a good candidate for your site. You might want to consider one of the more compact, dwarf varieties, such as 'Silverado'(tm). Another possibility for a native evergreen shrub is the wax myrtle (Morella cerifera). There are also dwarf wax myrtle varieties. Instead of monkey grass, you might consider gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris), a native bunch grass. In the fall it turns a beautiful feathery pink and tolerates being cut back occasionally. Another attractive clump grass, inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), might also be a possibility. Another evergreen to consider is the native cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea). A couple of Texas natives come to mind for groundcovers. One is Texas frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) and another is straggler daisy, or horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis).

You can read about the symbolism of some common cemetery plants. Although many of these are not native to Texas, you might be able to find an equivalent native for your purpose.

 

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