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?


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

Tuesday - September 13, 2005

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


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?


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.


More Soils Questions

Will wood shavings in the soil require nitrogen from Charleston MO
May 04, 2011 - I cut down a big maple tree and a lot of the wood shavings was left in the soil. I planted a flower bed over the area this spring. I later read that the wood chips in the soil would use a lot of nitro...
view the full question and answer

Soil for native Chilopsis linearis and Salvia greggii
February 08, 2010 - I want to plant a desert willow and a salvia greggii in my small lot. The developer used sandy loam to fill in the small garden in the front. I am 73 and a bit impaired. Do I really need to remove ...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-native Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Central Texas
July 01, 2013 - Hi. I recently moved into a remodeled home in Taylor, TX, and have experimented with Cabernet Savignon vines before. I have a 1/2 acre and a chain-link fence I want to put vines on. (I have a book o...
view the full question and answer

Soils for spiderwort from Round Rock TX
August 08, 2013 - We have spiderworts growing naturally in our backyard. We put a large circle around them them with limestone rock (as our beds have) to make their own bed as they clumped in one area. What kind of s...
view the full question and answer

Oyster Shell source in Austin
September 18, 2015 - Hi, I was not sure who to reach out to, but I work for Quality Seafood here in Austin, and we have several gardeners who take our old oyster shells and grind them up or put them in their gardens for ...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center