En Español

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

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


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

Compatibility of mixed ground covers with St. Agustine grass
March 04, 2015 - My husband and I live in Northwest Austin. We have removed lawn from our front yard and replaced it with mulch and some trees and other plantings. We would like to replace the lawn in our backyard ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Blackfoot daisy seed
July 21, 2015 - I have a three yr old Blackfoot daisy. How do you root Blackfoot daisy seeds? When is the best month to grow these seeds?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of endangered plant Texas trailing phlox from Carrollton TX
December 26, 2013 - 1. How many seeds does the Texas trailing phlox produce per season? 2. Can the seeds be taken from a living plant without hurting it? Thank You!
view the full question and answer

Wildlife garden for Austin
May 19, 2013 - I am trying to make my backyard more wildlife friendly. I have pecan trees for the canopy and some understory shrub/trees like rough leaf dogwood and redbud. I am having a really hard time finding sui...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant with white flowers and serrated leaves in creek bed
September 17, 2012 - I have a wild fall blooming plant, white flowers, serrated leaves. Growing abundantly in my dry creek bed. Any thoughts?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center