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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 11, 2009

From: Tyler, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Plants (mostly non-native) not common to Tyler TX area
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in Tyler, TX 75705. I always seem to fall in love with plants that are not common for this area so I cannot find information on growing these plants in this area: Esperanza, Alstromeria, Japanese Iris, Plumbago, Shasta Virburnum, Shasta Daisy, and Chelone (Turtlehead) and Tall Garden Phlox. I have lots of shade on west side of house (front yard) so plants requiring full sun cannot get enough sun and plants requiring shade from afternoon cannot cannot get enough morning sun. Extremely HOT AND HUMID SHADE during the summer.


Unfortunately, we think you are trying to put the square peg in the round hole, or the non-native plant into the native dirt. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. The native plant is adapted by millennia of experience to the soil, climate and rainfall of its own area, and will need less water, fertilizer and maintenance to survive.

For instance, your first plant choice, Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush), while it is native to North America and to Texas, is NOT native to, nor does it grow in, Smith County, according to this USDA Plant Profile.  The reasons for this are that it is basically a desert plant, liking rocky alkaline soils and limestone-based sandy soils. In East Texas, your wonderful acidic soils with thousands of years of leaves from deciduous trees contributing to that acidity and soil texture, the Esperanza is just out of place. This USDA Plant Profile of Chelone obliqua (red turtlehead) shows it native to North America, but not Texas. There is a native plant, Phlox paniculata (fall phlox) native to North America, and is 3 to 4 ft. tall, so that is probably the one. Alas, again, this plant is not native to Texas-USDA Plant Profile.

So, lets look at some of the other plants you are pining after:

Alstromeria - native to grasslands and pampas of Brazil

Japanese Iris, Iris ensata - native to northern China, Manchuria, Korea and Siberia

Plumbago auriculata- subtropical, native to South Africa

Shasta daisy, Leucanthum vulgare x superbum is native to Turkey, Russia and Europe

Shasta viburnum, Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Shasta' is native to China, Japan and Taiwan

You can Google on these Latin names and read about the conditions in which these plants grow, and try to envision how you would create that environment in Tyler. Or you can send us another question on how to find plants native to your area that will do well in the conditions you have described in your own garden, and we will be glad to help you out. 




More Non-Natives Questions

Removing invasive Dichelostemma firecracker plant from Austin
April 12, 2012 - We have dichelostemma firecracker plant & cannot kill it. We need help in getting rid of this plant. Spent another 3 hours digging up corms this afternoon. It is invading our backyard & want it kil...
view the full question and answer

Salvia that needs dividing in Maryville MO
April 09, 2010 - I have some May Night salvia that is 3 years old. Last summer it split in the middle and spent a lot of the summer laid open. I'm wondering if it needs to be split or pruned in some way?
view the full question and answer

Preventing seed production in non-native chinaberry in Yucaipa CA
July 04, 2009 - You were just asked about "keeping almonds from producing" I actually found your site to ask how to keep a chinaberry tree from producing its berries. I am considering renting a commercial property ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of spiky red berry in Connecticut
September 25, 2011 - I found an odd berry outside of my school, none of the science teachers know what it is though. It kind of looks like a spiked cherry. It has spikes on the outside, a pit on the insde, and has pinkish...
view the full question and answer

Is Viburnum dilatatum 'Henneke' (Cardinal Candy) toxic to horses?
July 01, 2014 - Is Viburnum-Cardinal Candy/Viburnum dilatatum 'Henneke' reported to be toxic or non-toxic to horses?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center