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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.

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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.

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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!

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Monday - September 22, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Understory plants for creek side in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live along Shoal Creek in central Austin and would like to establish a natural balance of vegetation along the creek. We currently have a high tree canopy made up of native Cedar Elms. What would you recommend for native understory plants (shrubs, trees and grasses) that would thrive in the dapple shade and clay creek soils? Bird attracting species would be a bonus! Thanks! Chris

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants recommends the following plants that will grow in part shade (2-6 hours of sun per day), in clay soil, and have various benefits for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

GRASS/GRASS-LIKE

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

SHRUBS/SMALL TREES

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Senna lindheimeriana (velvet leaf senna)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

You can find more possibilities in a list of recommended native species for Central Texas that are commercially available by clicking on that area on the map on our Recommended Species page.


Chasmanthium latifolium

Schizachyrium scoparium

Panicum virgatum

Nolina texana

Ilex vomitoria

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Rhus aromatica

Rhus glabra

Rhus virens

Senna lindheimeriana

Sophora secundiflora

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

 

 

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