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
1 rating

Sunday - March 08, 2009

From: Killeen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Container plants for pool area in Killeen TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We live in Central Texas (Killeen). We want to put some container plants around our pool. (backyard with pool is all cement). We want some larger stuff, like maybe bamboo, elephant ears, etc. What plants would do well in containers during our Texas summers and be able to survive our short, but sometimes icy winters? Thanks for your help.


First of all, we need to tell you that the focus of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is on plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. Both Phyllostachys bambusoides (bamboo)  and Colocasia esculenta  (elephant ears) originated in temperate and tropical Asia. Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant in the world, and both plants are considered invasives. However, there are a number of plants native to Central Texas that would work very well around your pool.

We would first suggest reading our How-To Articles Using Native Plants  and then Container Gardening with Native Plants. We are going to go to our Recommended Species for Central Texas, and narrow our search first to "Shrubs" under Habit, and then "Herbs." On both of these, since you say your garden is cement, we are assuming the plants will get full sun all day, and will select for that in our searches. Some of the shrubs are deciduous, others evergreen or semi-evergreen, meaning they will retain most of their leaves in warmer parts of the country. The herbaceous flowering plants (herbs) will all die back in the winter. We have selected only perennials, which will come back in the Spring, and can be divided and transplanted. 


Ageratina havanensis (Havana snakeroot) - deciduous 

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Wright's desert honeysuckle) - deciduous

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita) - evergreen

Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood) - deciduous

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - evergreen

Salvia greggii (autumn sage) - semi-evergreen

Pavonia lasiopetala (Texas swampmallow) - semi-evergreen

Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush) - semi-evergreen


Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot)

Ageratina havanensis

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Chrysactinia mexicana

Eysenhardtia texana

Leucophyllum frutescens

Salvia greggii

Pavonia lasiopetala

Tecoma stans

Coreopsis lanceolata

Engelmannia peristenia

Lobelia cardinalis

Melampodium leucanthum




More Container Gardens Questions

Looking for a summer through winter blooming container plant, for Phoenix.
October 28, 2010 - I'm in Phoenix. I'm looking for a perennial plant that will be planted in a container in a commercial setting, that is under a shaded pergola. She wants it to bloom in the winter and if carried int...
view the full question and answer

Vine for trellis in Brooklyn, New York
June 11, 2014 - Hello, I am looking for a native vine to grow on a trellis in a large container. I live in Brooklyn, NY, and the area is in part shade. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plants for big pots by pool in Austin
August 14, 2012 - Could you please suggest some plants to put in big pots out by my pool? They will get lots of heat and sun. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Container plants for Bucks County, PA
February 18, 2009 - I live in Bucks County, PA and I would like to have a garden, but do not have a green thumb. Which plants come back each year that survive in large pots. Are daisies also a good choice for my garden...
view the full question and answer

Container gardening for pool in southern California
October 08, 2008 - I have large planters around pool would like to know what plants to use that will not grow to high or to big and will not have large roots home located in camarillo ca.
view the full question and answer

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