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Mr. Smarty Plants - Texas native plants in an indoor space in Dallas

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Friday - July 31, 2009

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens
Title: Texas native plants in an indoor space in Dallas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there a native Texas plant that would be suited for an indoor application, such as large planters in a lobby space?

ANSWER:

We did try, but not too successfully. You see, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the use, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. There really are no plants, especially natives, that are native to indoors. At first, we searched on succulents, as some of them can get by on quite a bit of shade, but even they would apparently not survive inside. And some of the Texas native succulents are things like Agave havardiana (Havard's century plant), not exactly a welcoming decoration in a public building. We tried searching on 2 hours or less a day of sunlight, and found 3 slim possibilities:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

Sabal minor (dwarf palmetto)

The first two are not only pretty messy for an indoors space, but they are deciduous. When winter comes, even though they are in a heated building, they are going to drop leaves and die back to the ground. The dwarf palmetto is evergreen, and possibly could adapt to living in a pot, but the question of sunlight remains. If a plant could be placed near a very sunny window, it might get enough sunlight. Plants native to Texas are accustomed, by eons of experience, to a lot of sun, often dry seasons, as well as changing seasons. 

Honestly, we would hate for you to spend time and money trying to place a Texas native indoors. There are a number of tropical non-natives that are widely used for that sort of situation. We don't recommend non-natives, but in your case, the plant isn't going to become invasive and move into the natural terrain around it. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Turk's cap or turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

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