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Wednesday - April 15, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Heirloom plants for Gault Homestead in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, The Gault Homestead at 2106 Klattenhoff in the middle of Wells Branch Subdivision is to be planted with heirloom or heritage plants soon. There is some sun for the planter boxes 21 feet long, 2 feet high and 2-1/2 feet wide in front of the house. Can you suggest plants from 1836 to 1860 that might have been planted (Oxblood Lily for example) A larger shaded area to the right of the cabin is 40' long and variable width 3-8 '. Can you suggest shade tolerant herbs or flowers?


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the care and propagation of plants native to North America, and to the area in which they are being grown. By definition, all of the native plants of this area were here before 1836 or 1776 or the arrival of humans. The native plants have evolved and developed to flourish in the climate, soil and rainfall of their area over many thousands or millions of years. But we don't think that is what you mean by heirloom or heritage plants. We understand your query was generated by someone asking us about an oxblood lily. In our answer to that original question we pointed out that Rhodophiala bifida is a native of Uruguay and Argentina and thus does not appear in our Native Plant Database. It is, however, an heirloom plant in Texas, brought here by German settlers. This illustrates our point that "native" does not necessarily equate to "heirloom." We know that some native plants were used for food and medicinal purposes before Europeans came to the United States, bringing their own plants with them, in many cases. Some of those plants are still being used today in some cultures for the same purposes.

We found some sources that can give you better information than we can. First, an article Heirloom Plants for Texas Gardens, an excerpt from the book The Southern Heirloom Garden by William C. Welch and Greg Grant. Another article by Dr. Welch of Texas A&M University The Southern Heirloom Garden has a link in it to the above site, also. If you can accept native plants that have been here a VERY long time, we will give you a list of plants native to this area, for sun (6 hours or over of sun a day), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun) and shade (less than 2 hours of sun). Since you have fairly large areas to deal with, we will list some attractive shrubs and smaller herbaceous flowering plants. Some will be perennials, but we will certainly throw in Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) which is a reseeding annual. If you have difficulty locating any of these plants, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in the name of your town and state and you will get a list of native plant, nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. 

Native annual herbaceous flowering plants

Amblyolepis setigera (huisache daisy) - part shade

Dracopis amplexicaulis (clasping coneflower) - part shade

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) - sun

Phlox drummondii (annual phlox) - sun, part shade

Native perennial herbaceous flowering plants

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed) - sun, part shade, shade

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower) - sun, part shade

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot) - sun, part shade

Salvia coccinea (blood sage) - sun, part shade, shade

Native shrubs

Ilex decidua (possumhaw) - sun, part shade

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - sun, part shade

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) - sun, part shade

Pavonia lasiopetala (Texas swampmallow) - sun, part shade

Amblyolepis setigera

Dracopis amplexicaulis

Lupinus texensis

Phlox drummondii

Coreopsis lanceolata

Echinacea purpurea

Melampodium leucanthum

Salvia coccinea

Ilex decidua

Leucophyllum frutescens

Mahonia trifoliolata

Pavonia lasiopetala




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