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

Problem with non-native sweet vernal grass, Anthoxanthum odoratum
June 24, 2010 - Hello there Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about growing Anthoxanthum odoratum known as sweet vernal grass. I'm trying to get Anthoxanthum odoratum, sweet vernal grass, to grow in my yard becau...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Maytens tree in Saratoga, CA
August 05, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, My friend's Mayten tree (green spray)leaves are yellowing and we don't know if it is under-watered (surrounded by grass and fed with a time sprinkler for 20 min. maybe 2 or ...
view the full question and answer

Plants purchased at Duke Gardens From Durham NC
April 09, 2013 - I went to the plant sale at a local garden this week and bought some very small plants. I am happy to wait for plants to grow but wondered if I need to do anything special. I live in Durham NC and...
view the full question and answer

Regulations for transporting plants to Texas from Florida
July 29, 2008 - We are relocating to TX from FL, I have a collection of potted palm trees and quite a few potted tropical plants (none are invasive)that I would like to bring with us, we will be traveling by car and ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native chocolate mimosa in Levittown NY
August 09, 2010 - I purchased about 2 ft chocolate mimosa tree in early June of this year from a local nursery located in Nassau County, New York. It was doing in our Long Island soil just fine for over a month, I woul...
view the full question and answer

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