Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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

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

Turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Havard's century plant
Agave havardiana

More Non-Natives Questions

Recommend a plant similar to Corkscrew Willow for Austin, TX.
June 16, 2015 - Do corkscrew willows do well in Austin, TX? If not, can you recommend a willow like tree to plant along the banks of a creek?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of non-native, poisonous oleanders
November 11, 2005 - How do I propagate oleanders? Can the cuttings be rooted in water? Or is it better to use rooting hormone and stick the cuttings in the soil?
view the full question and answer

Advice about lavender (Lavandula sp.)
June 03, 2008 - I recently visited a Lavender Farm just outside Gainseville Texas. I was hooked. However, when I started reading about growing Lavender I found that you should have well drained alkaline soil. Since...
view the full question and answer

Expected color of non-native crapemyrtles in Natchitoches LA
August 04, 2009 - just bought 8 new crepe myrtle trees that are suppose to be dynamite red in color. However, the few bulbs that are on them when you break them open they are white! Does this mean they are going to be ...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native dracaena potted plant
February 04, 2008 - Last summer I was given a corn plant that stands about 6ft tall. About 2 weeks ago it began to flower. Over time I've had maybe 3 or 4 of these plants and never had any of them bloomed. Is this no...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.