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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - September 13, 2005

From: Bryan, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Shrubs
Title: Apartment Landscaping
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in an apartment and have a small patch filled with rocks and an ugly plant I don't know the name of. I want to take out the existing plants and put something else in. It has to be hearty,low maintenance and able to survive in hot sun and sometimes rainy conditions. We are in Bryan,Texas. I would prefer to bring some color to this patch but just want the space to look pretty. What do you recommend?

ANSWER:

You can greatly improve your chances for success by adding four to six inches of good, sandy loam garden soil to your bed before you plant. Work the existing soil with a spade, digging fork or rototiller before adding the new soil. By mounding the soil, you provide conditions more favorable for root growth in the difficult spot you've described.

The single best plant that I can think of that fits your criteria is Texas Lantana. It is consistently colorful, tough as nails, pest, disease and deer resistant, treated like candy by butterflies and hummingbirds and is great for low-to-no maintenance areas. There are other choices, but for your needs, nothing could be better. Removing the developing seeds as they appear on the plant will encourage more flowering.

 

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