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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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Sunday - February 27, 2011

From: Bedford, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Wildflowers for sunny garden in Bedford TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in North Central Texas around Bedford. I have clay soil which I have been building with soil to enrich the soil foundation. I need a wildflower garden that receives at least 6 hours of sun per day. Lantana does well in this area as well as the annual angelonia. I am looking at Mexican oregano, rock penstemon, garden phlox, coneflower to plant with my existing lantana. Would these be good choices?

ANSWER:

We will go through your list and discuss each of your plant ideas individually, and see what information we can provide you.

Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) On this USDA Plant Profile, this plant is shown as growing only in the southern tip of Texas. One reference said that it suffers severe cold damage at 29 deg., but that it can be put in a pot for indoor winter gardening. From this learn2grow website you can get more information, including the fact that it is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones of 10 to 12. Tarrant County is in Zone 7b, and after the winter you have been having in North Central Texas, be warned. Pictures from Google.

Penstemon baccharifolius (Rock penstemon) Again, this USDA Plant Profile map shows the Rock Penstemon growing only in far southwest Texas. This article from Aggie Horticulture has more information on its native habitat. Read our whole website page on this plant to learn its soil and light requirements; we understand that it is not easily found in commercial trade.

Phlox paniculata (Fall phlox) Here is a puzzle in common names, often difficult to identify with the scientific name. None of the phlox in our Native Plant Database has the common name "garden phlox," but another source identified Garden Phlox as Phlox paniculata. This grows natively as near as Oklahoma, so there is a good chance it would do all right in North Central Texas. Phlox drummondii (Annual phlox) does grow natively in your area. It is an annual, but reseeds well.

Angelonia angustifolia - This plant is not native to North America, but rather to Mexico and the West Indies; it functions as a perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11, and can be treated as an annual in colder Zones. Follow the plant link to an article from Floridata that has more information on culture. Pictures from Google.

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower) Once again, the "common name curse" strikes. When we searched on "coneflower" in our Native Plant Database, we got 27 results, 8 in the Echinacea genus, 4 in Ratibida and 11 in Rudbeckia. So, we went to Recommended Species, clicked on North Central Texas on the map, searched on "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) and found the Echinacea purpurea was one of the 3 listed for your area, so we will go with that. It is a sturdy, attractive perennial, so we're thinking that is probably the one you meant.

To sum up, not all of these plants are native to your area, and some might not be hardy in your area. You might try using the Recommended Species section to search for some others. Again, click on the portion of the Texas map for North Central Texas, and in the sidebar on the right-hand side of the page, select "herb" under General Appearance and "Sun" (6 hours or more of sun a day) under Light Requirements.  If there are other characteristics you wish to add, like soil moisture, bloom time or color, you may also check on those. Then use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH  function to search.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Penstemon baccharifolius


Phlox paniculata


Phlox drummondii


Echinacea purpurea

 

 

 

 

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