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?

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

Friday - March 18, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Ground Cover for Austin
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

What are some ground cover or low growing shrubs that will do well in afternoon sun only in the 78750 zip code?

ANSWER:

  That’s a perfect job for the recommended species application offered on this website.  We don’t get quite as specific as 78750, but you will find recommended species for Central Texas and you can be pretty sure they will be good choices.  One thing you can recognise is that 78750 is to the north side of the county, which is an area that is part of the Edwards Plateau / Hill Country rather than the east side of Travis County which more closely resembles the Blackland prairie.  You should lean towards natives that also thrive in the counties to the northwest.  All the plants I mention below fit that consideration and in fact have pretty wide distribution throughout Texas.

   When I did this search, I further narrowed the search to General Appearance:“herb”, Light Requirement: “Partial Shade 2-6 hours”, and Height: "0-1 feet".  That returned 8 lovely flowers, including Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena), and Salvia engelmannii (Engelmann's sage), all of which will grow well.


Salvia engelmannii

      
Callirhoe involucrata
          Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

 

  Realizing that this doesn’t give you year-around ground cover, you can do the same search, but for “Grass/Grass-like” habits, then the recommendation is for Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) or Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri (Curly-mesquite).  These require full sun, so they might not do quite so well depending on how serious a requirement you have for “afternoon sun only”.  If this general direction appeals, I know that some of the Wildflower Center suppliers such as Native American Seed offer varieties that have been optimised for partial shade.

              
Bouteloua dactyloides
           Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri

  If you are looking for slightly taller natives, the 1-3 ft category has 5 recommended species including Chrysactinia mexicana (Damianita) and Penstemon baccharifolius (Rock penstemon).  The 3-6 foot selection has 33 recommended species.  I like Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Flame acanthus) and Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana).

         
Chrysactinia mexicana
      Penstemon baccharifolius    Anisacanthus quadrifidus       Lantana urticoides

  You have many choices, but if you go with the recommended species, you will have a lovely native garden. 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Source for Dichondra from Hillsboro TX
November 26, 2012 - Where can I get dichondra and info about it?
view the full question and answer

Plants for difficult site in Jacksonville, TX
July 07, 2010 - East Texas (Cherokee County) red clay hillside, hard-packed, difficult to get to, 40' of it slopes 4' down in about 6'! Another 30' of it is flat. Between the hillside and the flat clay area is a...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-vascular moss as a lawn from Seattle WA
July 27, 2013 - I have lots of moss in my back yard. How can I encourage it to grow over the whole yard?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for gravesite in Maryland
March 13, 2013 - I know this is very unusual question but here I go. I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and I am looking for a low ground cover for my grandparents grave. The soil is very sandy and I am looking...
view the full question and answer

Low plants to cover bank too steep to mow
June 26, 2008 - I have a bank along the road that is too steep to mow. This bank faces east and only gets 2 - 4 hours per day of sunlight. I'd like to try ground cover to prevent erosion, however visibility is a p...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center