En Español

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?


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

Sunday - February 27, 2011

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


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?


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





More Wildflowers Questions

Grow bluebonnets in Virginia
September 04, 2007 - I want to ATTEMPT to grow some Texas Bluebonnets in VA because I am homesick and both our kids are back in Austin. That said, the site says " it may be necessary to inoculate the soil with a rhizobiu...
view the full question and answer

Why did my Prairie Flax plant die in Austin, TX?
April 27, 2012 - Hello, We planted 4 prairie flax last fall in garden. They were all growing nicely until last month when I found that one of them has completely dried up and died. The plants are planted together a...
view the full question and answer

Information about the bluebonnet
October 03, 2008 - What other plants live near a bluebonnet? What problems does the plant face, such as people, weather, and insects?
view the full question and answer

Is Common Milkweed a Succulent?
March 31, 2015 - Is the common milkweed (butterfly plant) classified as a succulent?
view the full question and answer

Is Fern-like Plant with White Flower Poison Hemlock?
May 06, 2014 - I have a fern-like plant which produces white flowers that uncurl from the stem as the plant starts to grow. Is this poison hemlock?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center