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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 25, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Planting shade plants in 100+ weather
Answered by: Nina Hawkins


I was planning on planting some columbines in a barrel and Turk's Cap and Coralberry in my yard, but hadn't counted on the extreme heat this early in the summer. Is it okay to plant these things as long as I am careful to keep them watered, or would it be a waste of my time?


Extreme heat is no understatement!  We are setting records here in Austin this June.  If you don't already have the plants, I would advise waiting until the Fall to plant your native shade plants.  Fall is prime planting season in Central Texas because the mild weather allows the plants to get established and develop a strong root system during the cooler months and then have a good growing season in Spring to build up energy stores before contending with the extreme stress of our summer heat.  If you can't resist, however, follow the wise instructions given in this recently answered question and your plants will have a shot at limping through the summer.


Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana

Malvaviscus arboreus

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Small area native plant gardening for an apartment
November 14, 2008 - Mr.Smarty, We live in an apartment and are fortunate to have a small area, 5'x5', and so want color! Here in Houston the winters don't freeze much and the summers are HOT. Luckily, we are in the ...
view the full question and answer

Philadelphus ernestii under live oak in Pflugerville TX
April 05, 2010 - Will Philadelphus ernestii thrive in the root zone of live oak, or would the oak inhibit its growth? I'd like to plant it just at the edge of the canopy.
view the full question and answer

Grass or ground cover for sun/part shade in Austin
December 30, 2007 - I live in Southwest Austin (a couple of miles from the Wildflower Center) and I would like to plant some grass in my backyard. I have a small yard with several oak trees and they have been cut back to...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing evergreen shade shrub for Lincoln NH
September 14, 2009 - I need a fast-growing, shade loving evergreen shrub that will give us privacy and grow in and around some White Pines whose branches were pruned to 4 - 6 ft above the ground. The house is in Lincoln ...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental shade grasses for Dover AR
April 16, 2011 - Ornamental shade grasses for sandy soil or silt, part shade, or even vines.
view the full question and answer

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