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?

Share

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

Non-native Asclepias curassavica
March 09, 2005 - I have some plants given to me by a neighbor, here in Florida. She says they are called Butterfly Reel or by another name Asclepias Curassavica. I have been unable to locate any info. on this plant. ...
view the full question and answer

Blueberries and non-native squash in Fort Worth
April 15, 2010 - Blueberries in North Central Texas-Fort Worth In sun or shade? Got only male blossoms on my squash last year why?
view the full question and answer

Trailing perennial plants for High Wycombe, England
April 19, 2008 - Hello Mr Smarty Plants, I would like to know what trailing plants are also perennial, preferably flowering ones but that also look pretty when not in flower? My kitchen looks out onto a five foot h...
view the full question and answer

Care of the non-native Aralias (Genus Polyscias)
January 04, 2008 - Today I purchased a POLYSCIAS common name "Aralia" I was told that can be happy inside, little light. Please could you inform me how to take care: feeding, fertilizing, watering needs? Does it bl...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
May 01, 2014 - My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center