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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 - October 06, 2009

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants for hanging baskets in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you suggest some plants for winter hanging baskets in the Austin, TX area?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown, in this case, Central Texas. The plants you ordinarily see in hanging baskets are often non-natives to this area. There are some natives that possibly would do well in hanging baskets (we assume this is for outside?) that are going to be dormant in the winter.  If you are looking for indoor hanging baskets, there are few plants that can endure artificial heat, low light and dryness of the indoor climate; the ones that can are generally non-native tropicals. We did find some plants that might work for you, either flowering all year or starting very early in the year, evergreen or semi-evergreen, even some ferns that are evergreen but don't, of course, flower.

We would add one caution: Since this is not something we have considered before for native plants, we do not know how hardy the roots of these plants would be in the winter. Roots of a plant in the ground are insulated by the warmth of the Earth, as well as mulch or decomposing organic matter. A plant in a planter is more vulnerable to freezing weather because it has so little insulation, just some potting soil and the container. To carry this one step further, a plant in a hanging basket is really exposed, not only to freezing weather and cold wind, but to drying out. 

Possibilities for Hanging Baskets in Central Texas:

Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppymallow) - evergreen or semi-evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple March to June, but has attractive trailing foliage

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Dakota mock vervain) - blooms pink, purple March to October, an annual that sometimes perennializes

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies) - semi-evergreen, blooms pink February to July

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy) - evergreen, blooms January to December

Adiantum capillus-veneris (common maidenhair) - evergreen

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) - evergreen

Thelypteris kunthii (Kunth's maiden fern) - semi-evergreen

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Callirhoe involucrata

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Oenothera speciosa

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa

Adiantum capillus-veneris

Polystichum acrostichoides

Thelypteris kunthii

 

 

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