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

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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 Compost and Mulch Questions

Spreading compost from Kyle TX
January 22, 2012 - I'm trying to find if there is some type of "implement" to help spread compost in my yard that is easier than a shovel and rake. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in high zinc, lead and copper soil in Los Angeles
January 24, 2011 - We live on the Westside of Los Angeles and have just been given the bad news that our beds are high in zinc (86.39), lead (45.98) and copper(12.95). Can you recommend some plants that may grow in thes...
view the full question and answer

Shade ground cover under honeysuckle from Wichita KS
February 21, 2012 - Hi! I know this is a bit odd, but I am trying to find a nontoxic, good ground covering plant that can live in the shade while competing with the roots of a whole bunch of honeysuckle. I have a few ide...
view the full question and answer

Shredded hardwood for mulch
December 07, 2007 - I intend to landscape a section of my new property. but want to wait until the cold weather has passed. I have pets that will be contained within a fenced-in area that has some wild grasses but also ...
view the full question and answer

Recovering neglected garden space from Grapevine TX
March 22, 2014 - I live in Grapevine TX (Dallas). I just moved into a house where almost the entire large backyard is covered by oak trees that shed tons of leaves throughout our mild falls/winters. The yard has not...
view the full question and answer

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