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?

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
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

Tuesday - March 30, 2010

From: Cedar Hill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Flowers for sunny and shady gardens in Cedar Hill TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last year I spent way too much on flowers for my sunny and shady flower beds. They all died from the heat, even after constant watering. What flowers could I plant in sunny and shady flower beds that will endure the Texas summers? And what would be the best flowers for potting?

ANSWER:

On the subject of plants for pots, first read our How-To Article on Container Gardens for Native Plants. Then, see this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on that subject. While this question was from Austin, there is not that much difference in the climates between here and North Central Texas, and certainly the advice on choosing the plants applies. 

If everything died after constant watering, it may not have been the plants, it may have been the dirt. Before you spend any more time and money on plants this year, first do a little work in preparing the beds. In your area of North Central Texas you probably have a whole lot of clay in your soil. If that is true and you were watering a lot, you may have drowned the roots of your plants. Plants native to your area (which is what we at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommend) would ordinarily be able to tolerate low watering practices, and certainly would object to too much water. Whatever your soils are, they certainly will benefit with the application of some compost or other organic materials. If you don't have a compost pile, you can buy it in bags at the nurseries. Work it into your soil, turning it over, aerating the soil while you amend it. Here is an excellent article from About.com: Organic Gardening Understanding and Improving Clay Soil.

The next step is choosing the right plants for the right spots. You say you have "sunny and shady" flower beds; so which is it? You need to watch your beds for a day, keeping track of what portions have sun (6 or more hours of sun a day), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun) or shade (less than 2 hours of sun). To help you in making some appropriate selections, we will go to our Recommended Species, click on North Central Texas on the map. In the NARROW YOUR SEARCH section on that page you will have a number of options to select. We'll do a trial run, and then you can go from there. First, we'll select "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants) from General Appearance, then "perennial" from Lifespan, and "part shade" from Light Requirements. This search gave us 16 choices, from which we chose 8 as examples. You can follow each plant link to learn when the plant blooms, what colors, how high and what kind of water use it has. You may note that many of these plants will tolerate more than one level of light; in fact, some may say "Sun, part shade or shade" in the Light Requirements line, which gives you some latitude in placement of those plants. Most blooming plants will bloom better in more sun.

After you have practiced on this, go back to Recommended Species, again check on North Central Texas, and search on other characteristics, like "shrub" or "sun" or "annual." For blooming plants you can even enter the color blooms you want and the months you want them to bloom. You may not get any results from a search that narrow, but you might.

North Central Texas Garden Plants: 

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot)

Salvia azurea (azure blue sage)

Salvia roemeriana (cedar sage)

From Our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Aquilegia canadensis

Asclepias tuberosa

Conoclinium coelestinum

Echinacea purpurea

Lobelia cardinalis

Melampodium leucanthum

Salvia azurea

Salvia roemeriana

 

 

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Mildew on phlox paniculata from Morrisville PA
May 30, 2014 - My Phlox paniculata, all 7, have powdery mildew. I read about using NEEM to combat the mildew. NEEM is organic but the bottle says it is also an insecticide. The phlox are near my milkweed and gold...
view the full question and answer

Something eating holes in Texas Betony from Austin
June 06, 2012 - What pest is eating holes in the leaves of my Texas Betonys? They look healthy but almost all leaves have various sizes of round holes in them. What is the best cure for this? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Nightflowering plants native to Northern Illinois
October 12, 2010 - Looking for any/all info on night flowering plants that are native to Northern Illinois.
view the full question and answer

Insect infestation, identification and treatment
April 21, 2008 - help! I have an infestation of small flies in my flower/vegetable beds. They seem to be eating the leaves of just about everything. I've tried to find out exactly what they are, but haven't had any ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Woodcreek TX
January 27, 2012 - I would like to attach a photo of a weed in my lawn and have you identify it. How do I send a photo? I have been told it may be ground ivy. Please tell me how to kill it without damaging the lawn.
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
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center