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

Thursday - October 08, 2009

From: Temple, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Annual for poor drainage area in Temple TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


What annual would you recommend for a bed with poor drainage for summer color ?


The first thing we would suggest is improving the drainage in that bed. We can certainly recommend some plants that tolerate wet feet, but you will have much better success and more range of choice if you correct the drainage. It really isn't any big deal, depending on the circumstances. Is the bed directly under a roof where the water comes down in sheets on the bed when it rains? You might consider some guttering or at least putting sturdier shrubs in that space. Is it just a low spot where water naturally drains into it? Raising the bed by adding some good soil and some organic matter like compost will address the problem in most cases. Many raised beds have frameworks around them, but you can likely make do by just mixing better dirt into what is there, both raising the level and increasing the capacity for drainage. You probably have clay there, which absorbs moisture, swells up and doesn't permit oxygen and nutrients to get to the plant roots growing in that clay.

Since we don't know what your sun exposure is, we are going to go to Recommended Species, click on Central Texas on the map, and search on "herbs" (herbacebeous blooming plants) under General Appearance, "annual" under Duration, and wet or moist soil under Soil Moisture. This netted us four results, all good-looking flowers native to Central Texas. If you get the poor drainage corrected, you could expand your choices by going through the same search procedure but just not specifying soil moisture. And/or you could specify "perennial" under Duration, or not specify duration at all. Follow each link to the page on that individual plant to find out its projected size, growing conditions and propagation instructions.

Annuals for wet or moist soil in Temple TX:

Dracopis amplexicaulis (clasping coneflower) - blooms yellow April to July, high water use, part shade

Eryngium leavenworthii (Leavenworth's eryngo) - blooms blue, purple July to September, low water use, sun or part shade

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan) - blooms yellow June to October, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Salvia coccinea (blood sage) - blooms white, pink, purple February to October, sun, part shade or shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Dracopis amplexicaulis

Eryngium leavenworthii

Rudbeckia hirta

Salvia coccinea



More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Perennials for flowerbed in Texas Panhandle
October 19, 2012 - I have a flowerbed in a partially shaded area and want some perennials. I live in the Texas Panhandle, soil is sandy, loamy. Hardiness zone is 6-B.
view the full question and answer

Dividing non-native daffodils from Austin
April 15, 2012 - The foliage on my daffodils is lush and healthy, but I have no blooms. Should I divide them?
view the full question and answer

What to do about early seedlings
January 16, 2015 - Hello, Over the last few weeks I have noticed that all my naturally occurring poppies and delphiniums have started to sprout up around my yard. Hundreds of them! I imagine it's because of the ear...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for gravesite in Maryland
March 13, 2013 - I know this is very unusual question but here I go. I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and I am looking for a low ground cover for my grandparents grave. The soil is very sandy and I am looking...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of Aphids on Asclepias plants in Brea, CA.
July 23, 2012 - I grow asclepsias or MILKWEED for the benefit of Monarchs. At times I have aphids consuming the leaves. How can I destroy the aphids without harming the Monarch eggs? Thank you very much.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center