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
5 ratings

Tuesday - May 16, 2006

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Native plants for seasonal poor drainage
Answered by: Dean Garrett


I have an area in my front yard that has a drainage ditch running through it. When it rains, that area stays very wet. What kind of plants available for sale will work in this situation?


There are several plants native to Central Texas that do well in seasonal poor drainage. Some of these require sun and some require dappled shade. Click on the links to learn more about them.

Large Trees

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Small Trees/Large Shrubs

Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor)
Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)
Possumhaw (Ilex decidua)
Carolina Buckthorn (Frangula caroliniana)
Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii)

Small, Flowering Shrubs

Shrubby White Mistflower (Ageratina havanensis)

Perennial Flowers

Spring Obedient Plant (Physostegia intermedia
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Big Red Sage (Salvia penstemonoides)
Tall Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

Annual Flowers

Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltata var. grandiflora)
Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)


Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
Bushy Bluestem (Andropogon glomeratum)


River Fern (Thelypteris kunthii)

The trees, shrubs, and several of the others plants listed here are seasonally available at Barton Springs Nursery in Austin and Natives of Texas nursery in Medina. Seeds of the flowers and grasses are seasonally available from Native American Seed in Junction. Check our National Suppliers Directory for additional sources.

Taxodium distichum

Sabal minor

Ilex vomitoria

Ilex decidua

Frangula caroliniana

Cornus drummondii

Ageratina havanensis

Physostegia intermedia

Lobelia cardinalis

Salvia penstemonoides

Solidago canadensis

Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum

Coreopsis tinctoria

Chasmanthium latifolium

Andropogon glomeratus

Thelypteris kunthii

More Water Gardens Questions

Plants for freestanding water in Oklahoma
July 28, 2013 - I have an overflowing gutter and the ground below becomes a muddy hole. I'd like to put a basin or pot in/or above the ground with a rain chain. Are there any plants--shrubs or otherwise that flouris...
view the full question and answer

Winter tank pond care in Austin Texas
November 09, 2010 - Suggestions for winterizing a water garden in Austin Texas. Water contained in a 60 gallon aluminum horse tank. Garden contains papyrus, horsetail and water lily. There are no fish in the pond and no...
view the full question and answer

Tradescantia as a water plant
June 13, 2007 - I have a spiderwort plant, and when I found it at the nursery, it was in water by the pond plants, (I had no idea what kind of plant it was at the time) So I bought it, took it home, and repotted it w...
view the full question and answer

Hungry turtles trample pond in Houston Texas
October 17, 2011 - I have a very large back yard pond (actually, a former swimming pool) that's home to a bullfrog, four Red-eared slider turtles, and scads of gambusia (little mosquito eating fish). I'd like to add n...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under a fountain splash line in California
January 29, 2009 - What plants should we plant under our fountain's splash line in our Mediterranean style courtyard? The area will get wet from the fountain's splashing and have "full" sun. We are on a rock ridge...
view the full question and answer

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