En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
6 ratings

Friday - April 03, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Native plants for full sun in Austin
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe


I am looking for a tough, native TX plant to put in full sun location between the sidewalk and street. I would love for it to flower all summer. There is some irrigation but not much. I don't want the plants to get too tall and block visibility for driving out the driveway. Any suggestions?


Here is a list of some plants that are either evergreen or at least have a green leafy rosette through the winter. Most of these plants are quite xeric - several require well-drained sites, and would not be good choices for periodically soggy sites.

The first four are herbaceous and low-growing. Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy), will bloom right on through the winter. Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy) has a long spring-into-summer bloom period. Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita)  has a lovely spring bloom and then lesser flowering throughout the summer. Penstemon triflorus (Heller's beardtongue), Hill Country Penstemon, has only one intense bloom in the spring, but is so striking that I included it as a possible accent plant.

The next plants are low-growing shrubs and succulents. Viguiera stenoloba (resinbush), or Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye, forms a dense clump and blooms in series all season long. Periodic shearing promotes a denser, "landscape" look. This plant spreads out by root runners to fill available space. Salvia greggii (autumn sage) is a perennial (!) favorite. It blooms several times a year. It also profits from being pruned back about one-third after it has bloomed intensely. Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista) only blooms once a year in the spring - a very interesting bloom stalk, but makes a good green foundation plant and requires little maintenance. Red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca), has long-lasting blooms and also requires little maintenance, but might grow a little too tall for your location.

One other suggestion — though you requested flowering plants, you might consider some of our native grasses, which have their own grace and beauty, and can provide very durable landscaping in tough spots. A couple of suggestions are also included below. Occasional "combing" to remove dead and matted material keeps them presentable and healthy.

To do some research of your own, try going to our Native Plant Database and in the Explore Plants header, select Recommended Species. Click on your area of the map, then manipulate the parameters to match your needs.

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy) 

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita) 

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy)

Penstemon triflorus (Heller's beardtongue)


Viguiera stenoloba (resinbush) 

Salvia greggii (autumn sage)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca)


Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Nassella tenuissima (finestem needlegrass) Mexican Feather or Wire Grass - spreads very readily by seed


Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa

Chrysactinia mexicana

Engelmannia peristenia

Penstemon triflorus

Viguiera stenoloba

Salvia greggii

Nolina texana

Hesperaloe parviflora

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

Nassella tenuissima






More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Problems with mature Blue Agave in Kenya
December 09, 2012 - I have a mature Agave plant and there is a thin black liquid that looks like oil starting to appear on the leaves. The plant plant seems to be dying (from the bottom up). (The plant is a blue Agave an...
view the full question and answer

Bloom stalk not visibly connected to Century Plant from Johnson City, TX
July 31, 2013 - Can anyone tell my why my Century Plant is growing a bloom stalk a couple of feet away from my plant instead of up through the middle? Ive never seen one do that and it strikes me as being rather odd!
view the full question and answer

Container plants for Arlington TX
February 10, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I just moved to Arlington, TX. I am trying to create a container garden on my apartment balcony. What flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit combinations can I put together that wil...
view the full question and answer

Bringing upright a leaning cholla cactus
August 29, 2013 - I have a 3 ft. tall Cylindropuntia bigelovii that fell over after recent rains. I righted it and supported it with garden stakes for about a month. I was afraid to pull too hard on the low...
view the full question and answer

Damage to yucca in San Marcos TX
October 18, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, thank you for helping me with my buffalo grass is San Marcos TX back in the spring, my lawn is gorgeous thanks to you! I really need your help as someone sabotaged my beauti...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center