En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Rain garden plants for Austin

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

Saturday - March 20, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Rain Gardens
Title: Rain garden plants for Austin
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I have a 7'x1' shaded area in between my house and sidewalk where the downspout is, and would like to add plants for a more eco-friendly drainage solution. Which plants would be best? I know that they would need to be able to handle the occasional flood but also need to be drought tolerant. Help please.

ANSWER:

You have the right idea, looking for plants that can tolerate both saturated soil and drought conditions.

The situation you are describing is considered to be a "rain garden" or "bioswale" which is an imaginative, attractive and functional method for slowing down stormwater to facilitate water infiltration into the soil, which in turn reduces pollution and erosion.

Because of the increased interest all over the country in this type of garden, we Green Gurus are in the process of compiling a Special Collection of Rain Garden plants, but it is not ready yet.  In the meantime, if you visit our Native Plant Database and search our Recommended Species lists for Central Texas selecting both wet and dry conditions (and shade to part shade), it will yeild 78 species.  You must then sort through them to see which plants will tolerate both extremes.

You will also find information and plant lists on the Texas A&M website that should be helpful (although not all their suggested plants are natives ... some are adapted aliens).

Here are a few favourites from our list.  If you click on the link it will take you to the plant information page for a detailed description. There are also shrubs and trees that are suitable for those conditions that would be too large for your site.

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Cooperia drummondii (evening rainlily)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Gaillardia suavis (perfumeballs)

Ipomopsis rubra (standing-cypress)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

Melica nitens (threeflower melicgrass)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Passiflora incarnata (purple passionflower)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Salvia coccinea (blood sage)


Aquilegia canadensis

Bouteloua curtipendula

Cooperia drummondii

Echinacea purpurea

Gaillardia suavis

Ipomopsis rubra

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Melica nitens

Monarda fistulosa

Passiflora incarnata

Panicum virgatum


Rudbeckia hirta

Salvia coccinea

 

 

 

More Rain Gardens Questions

Smarty Plants on water-absorbing plants
July 19, 2005 - I am looking for water-absorbing plants for L.A. zone. I am hoping this type of vegetation would ease the water retention problem at the planter right next to my basement. Is this a feasible solutio...
view the full question and answer

Plants for freestanding water in Oklahoma
July 28, 2013 - I have an overflowing gutter and the ground below becomes a muddy hole. I'd like to put a basin or pot in/or above the ground with a rain chain. Are there any plants--shrubs or otherwise that flouris...
view the full question and answer

Looking for native plants for a rain garden in Arlington, TX.
March 12, 2012 - I am looking for native Texas plants that would do well in rain gardens. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Plants for floodplain in Fairfield, New Jersey
March 21, 2010 - I have an easy question for you... I hope... We just moved into the floodplains of NJ in Fairfield and are interested in some plants. We would like to know what plants are best suited to grow in flood...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a bioswale in New York City
August 03, 2010 - I am interested in learning about the best vegetation for planting in a bioswale in New York City. Can you help? Thanks!
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center