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

Monday - July 11, 2011

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Trees
Title: Fragrant perennial plants for shade in Dallas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I am looking for shade-loving perennial plants to provide fragrance in my garden. What plants would you recommend for my North Texas (Dallas) garden that is fully shaded by huge pecan trees? My current favorite is Carolina Jessamine (Jasmine?), but it blooms only briefly.

ANSWER:

From the presence of large pecan trees Mr. Smarty Plants guesses that you live in a Blackland Prairie site with soil that can retain moisture.  Although many fragrance-producing plants in your area are not natives, there are natives that can fill that role very well.  The examples I shall mention should all thrive in light shade of the type usually found under large pecan trees.  The more light, the better blooms you can expect.  For early spring, before your pecan trees leaf out, try Viola blanda var. palustriformis (Sweet white violet),  Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) and Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)(fragrance from this latter plant can be overwhelming, so place it a few feet away from "nose-zero"). Clethra alnifolia (Coastal sweet pepperbush), Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush),Phlox pilosa (Downy phlox),Philadelphus texensis (Texas mock orange)Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow)Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood), and Ageratina havanensis (Havana snakeroot), locally called White Mistflower, are worth considering.  Fall-blooming species include Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel) and Tagetes lemmonii (Copper canyon daisy).  Foliage of the latter species, when brushed against, releases a powerful aroma attractive to some people but not to others.  Additional selections that release their fragrance when brushed against include Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac) and Mentha arvensis (Wild mint).  Click on the underlined species names to determine if each appears suitable for your setting on the basis of light and moisture requirements.

You should be able to locate most of these plants at one of your local native plant nurseries

 

From the Image Gallery


Arizona centaury
Centaurium calycosum

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Coastal pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

Northern spicebush
Lindera benzoin

Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Texas kidneywood
Eysenhardtia texana

Shrubby boneset
Ageratina havanensis

Witch hazel
Hamamelis virginiana

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Wild mint
Mentha arvensis

More Trees Questions

Old oak tree dropping leaves in Hazlet Township NJ
July 08, 2013 - I am 84 yrs old and have a 50 year old pin? oak. No more acorns, but the leaves are falling in clumps and are still alive. Every day I fill a huge garden bag with them. I live on a fixed income and...
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurel and Desert Willow in pots or ground in Brady, TX
May 09, 2006 - I would really appreciate your advice if a Texas Mountain Laurel (now a 1 gal. size) and a Desert Willow (now a 3 gal.) are good candidates for planting in containers and, if so, what size for each? ...
view the full question and answer

Tree leaves being chewed in Austin
July 04, 2009 - We planted a Texas Redbud tree, and Monterey Oak (Mexican White Oak) in the front yard this spring and both have had their leaves eaten or chewed by something I cannot find on their leaves. At first I...
view the full question and answer

Bugs eating new growth on Mountain Laurel shrubs from Dripping Springs TX
April 02, 2013 - What is eating the new growth on my mountain laurel shrubs? One plant has red bugs and the other has black (could they be love bugs?). Is there something I can do to preserve the new growth?
view the full question and answer

Bark damage to Tulip Tree
August 10, 2006 - I have a tulip tree planted. It is about 9-10 years old. Two years ago the tree looked as though the trunk was cracked. Maybe hit by lightning after a storm. This year the bark on the side of tree...
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