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

Monday - January 24, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Shade Tolerant
Title: Native plants for small pots in sun in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! We are renting our house, so while we have a yard, the landlord would prefer us to only add plants to his landscaping in pots. I have filled some large ones, but have been unable to find a good list of local Austin area plants good in very small pots. They are houseplant sized (about 3-5 cups), but I would love it if you could think of some small native plants that could survive outside in them. The yard has both shady and sunny areas, but I would prefer plants for our sunny back porch. Ideas?

ANSWER:

Before we address some specific plants for your request, we suggest you read two of our How-To Articles: A Guide to Native Plant Gardening and Container Gardening with Native Plants.

You will find your choices pretty limited by such small pots. There are some nice native cacti and succulents that are slow-growing enough that they can remain in limited space for longer, but will eventually have to go in the ground or a larger pot. Also, many smaller, slower-growing plants require at least some shade during the day, so please read the webpages on the plants to which we will refer you carefully, to see if they will fit into your location well.

To see what is available that is native to the Austin area. we will go to our Native Plant Database and search in the Combination Search on Texas and then on "succulent" for Habit or General Appearance. We will give you a few suggestions, follow each link to find out more about that plant's expected size, light requirements and soil. For pots, succulents will like the cactus and succulent soil mixes available at nurseries. After you begin using the Native Plant Database, you can make your own searches, choosing plants that fit your requirements. The ones that we thought might stay fairly small for a while are nearly all pretty prickly, and might not want them where children or pets could hurt themselves. If nothing you find in the succulents is suitable, you might consider using those small pots for nursery pots, planting seeds in them and growing plants to a size large enough to transplant to a bigger pot or the ground.

Succulents for containers in Austin:

Coryphantha echinus (Rhinoceros cactus)

Coryphantha sulcata (Nipple cactus)

Echinocereus coccineus var. coccineus (Scarlet hedgehog cactus)

Echinocereus pectinatus (Rainbow cactus)

Echinocereus reichenbachii (Lace cactus)

Echeveria strictiflora (Desert savior)

Manfreda maculosa (False aloe)

Manfreda sileri (Siler's tuberose)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Coryphantha echinus


Coryphantha sulcata


Echinocereus coccineus var. coccineus


Echinocereus pectinatus


Echinocereus reichenbachii


Echeveria strictiflora


Manfreda maculosa


Manfreda sileri

 

 

 

 

More Container Gardens Questions

Plants in wheelbarrow dying in Jacksonville, FL
June 22, 2011 - I planted a wheelbarrow with daisies, petunias and black and blue salvia. the salvia is thriving, but the others died. Is the salvia toxic to them?
view the full question and answer

Plants for pool area in Florida
May 09, 2008 - My husband and I have a pool with 4 planters and are looking for plants that we can put into our screened in pool area. We live in Central Florida and looking for ideas of plants that are slow growin...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for container gardens in Central Texas
March 11, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I moved to TX last year, for now living in an apartment with a good-size but shady deck; my garden in VA was full of VA native plants. What TX natives, if any, can I grow in ...
view the full question and answer

Wintering Purple Coneflowers in pots in Springfield MO
August 26, 2013 - I have some 8 month old purple cone flowers in containers on my porch. They did not bloom this summer because they were seedlings when given to me. I can not put them in the ground. How can I keep the...
view the full question and answer

Containerized honeysuckle for Dassel MN
April 05, 2013 - We are renting our house but I would like to enjoy my own honeysuckle. Can they be planted in a big pot so that I can take it with me when we move.
view the full question and answer

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