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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - May 27, 2010

From: Centennial, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Propagation
Title: Texas mail order nurseries for perennials from Centennial CO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you advise Texas mail order nurseries for perennials?

ANSWER:

Wait a minute. You want Texas mail order nurseries, and you live in Colorado? Or are you getting ready to move to Texas or want to send plants to someone in Texas? No matter, we'll answer your question, but first there are a couple of things we want to point out. If you are planning to put Texas plants in a Colorado garden, please check our Native Plant Database before you buy the plant, to determine if it will thrive or even live in the Colorado location.  At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildfllower Center, we are dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. There are perennials that will grow in both states; every webpage on every plant in our database lists the states to which that plant is native. But states like Texas, with their vast size, and Colorado, with their mountain ranges and prairies, host different plants in different parts of the state.

You can't duplicate a Texas garden in Colorado, but you can go to our Recommended Species section, click on Colorado on the map, and then Narrow Your Search by indicating what General Appearance (tree, shrub, etc.) you want, what the Light Requirements are, moisture of soil, etc. Click on Narrow your Search to get a list of plants native to Colorado. Follow the plant links on the list to the page on each individual plant, and check soils that plant likes, whether it can withstand wind or cold, how big it is expected to get and so forth. Make a list of the plants you want and then you can consult plant suppliers for their availability. 

But before you start filling out your mail order, consider this: While many nurseries do mail order of seeds, perennials are usually better planted as bedding plants, either from a nursery or from cuttings. You can plant perennials from seeds but there again, planting them ahead of the season in flats and developing them in controlled conditions will give you better results. We consider shipping a plant pretty stressful and if you are not ready to plant it the minute you get it, the results are likely to be disappointing. Our last caution is that while this is the time of year to be planning, it is not necessarily the time to be planting. Depending on the local climate, we recommend planting seeds in late Fall or early Spring, and perennial bedding plants in early Spring. In Arapaho County, you are in USDA Hardiness Zones 4a to 5b, which means it gets pretty cold in the winter, with snow on the ground a lot of the time.  In Texas, we recommend seeding in late Fall so the horrendous summer heat doesn't fry any little plants that stick their heads up. In the case of Colorado, you don't want those same plants to freeze to death. Perennials planted from seed rarely bloom until the second season, although those planted from bedding plants will sometimes bloom the first season.

Finally, to answer your question. Go to our National Suppliers Directory.  In the "Enter Search Location" box type in the town and state in which the plants are going to be grown. You will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in the general area around the town you have specified. We don't have separate listings for mail order in that list, but there is contact information for each of them, and you can get in touch and ask them about their mail order policies.

 

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