En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
3 ratings

Saturday - March 19, 2011

From: College Station, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Bee-friendly perennials for Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson


What plants native to east-central TX (College Station, 77840) will attract honeybees? I have a small "yard" behind my condo. I'd like to plant flowering perennials that will support local bee populations. I'm not an avid gardener, so I'm interested in something that will support the bees w/out a lot of work from me.


You are doing a real service to support our bees at a time when mysterious factors are causing their decline. But beware, watching bees can become addictive. There are many very interesting native bees in addition to the common honeybee. A useful website to describe this is sponsored by the Texas Bee Watchers. There you can find several lists of flowering plants favored by bees. The best strategy is to have some plants blooming at all possible times so that it is not a feast or famine situation for the bees. Even in winter bees are attracted to blooms of the non-native Rosemary(Rosemarinus officinalis). Native plants blooming in the early spring include Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) and Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud). A bit later come Tradescantia gigantea (Giant spiderwort) and Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana (Hinckley's golden columbine). Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)(not a perennial) and Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose) follow in April. Species holding their blossoms for some time in the summer include Wedelia texana (Zexmenia), Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana) and Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood). Texas kidneywood is a bee magnet in central Texas, and may also thrive in College Station. In the autumn Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed), Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (Aromatic aster) and Solidago nemoralis (Gray goldenrod) will kick in. These are but a few of the many bee-friendly plants native to Texas. Check out the growing conditions on these examples by clicking on the species names. None of them should require a great deal of work once they start growing.


From the Image Gallery

Mahonia trifoliolata

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Giant spiderwort
Tradescantia gigantea

Hinckley's golden columbine
Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida

Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides

Aromatic aster
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium

Gray goldenrod
Solidago nemoralis

Asclepias tuberosa

Texas kidneywood
Eysenhardtia texana

More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Native plants to attract migrating birds
June 12, 2010 - Can you suggest native plants that would attract migrating birds? I have a very sunny location, with very sandy soil. Thanks in advance for your answer.
view the full question and answer

Native landscaping and wildlife gardening in Clifton, TX
November 29, 2004 - I am moving to Clifton, TX, and I will have an empty lot in the town along with my own home/lot. What kind of soil can I expect? I want to grow a wildflower site to just sit and enjoy and feed the a...
view the full question and answer

Something eating milkweed leaves in Austin
June 23, 2011 - I have some milk weed plants, and have noticed in the last few weeks that something is eating the leaves on them. The flowers are fine and no other plant appears to be bothered. I thought perhaps it w...
view the full question and answer

Will hybrid Tecoma stans attract hummingbirds from Glendale AZ
July 07, 2012 - We bought a bells of fire plant; would like to know if hummingbirds like them?
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for a bird/small wildlife refuge in Wichita Co, TX.
August 26, 2011 - With our continuing drought in North Texas, I'm planning to transform my small backyard into a bird/small wildlife "refuge". What types of native plants and grasses can I plant in dry, hot Wichita ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center