Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

When do you put out bluebonnet seeds in Bastrop, TX?
April 17, 2012 - When do you put out bluebonnet seeds?? I hear fall but don't the seeds pop out of dried up plants in early summer?
view the full question and answer

What species of Aristolochia occur in Hidalgo County, TX?
August 06, 2009 - What species of Aristolochia or are in the Aristolochiaceae family occur in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, particularly Hidalgo Co., TX. Both Pipevine and Polydamas Swallowtail butterflies occur down h...
view the full question and answer

Blackfoot Daisy care in Marble Falls TX
February 21, 2016 - I've planted and killed a number of blackfoot daisy plants. I know it's a hardy plant that, once established needs little or no care. But what about getting them started? What care do they need f...
view the full question and answer

Effect on taste of honey from pollen gathered by honeybees in Appleton WI
March 09, 2014 - in the flower box.. We are planting perennial or self-planting annuals on our fields and open areas to feed honey bees for our apiary. We found a source and then lost it telling what effect these wil...
view the full question and answer

Needs Help with Peonies
January 14, 2011 - With the clay soil in North Texas (Frisco) which variety of peony would thrive and become a reliable bloomer? I do work on amending the soil with expanded shell and compost, but ultimately, we still h...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.