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Tuesday - August 02, 2011

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Rainwater Harvesting, Cacti and Succulents, Shrubs, Wildflowers
Title: Native Plant Suggestions for Dripping Springs
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


I have a very dry commercial property in Dripping Springs TX where the dry sand/dust isn't a good rain conductor (whenever we get rain). What can we plant there? We have no irrigation and use a rain water collection system only. We guess a grass or a totally drought tolerant groundcover would be our answer Thanks!!


Mr Smarty Plants sympathizes with your plight - - but - You've come to the right place!

Native plants are your answer; after all, they grew and adapted to the soil and weather conditions here and they certainly have the best chances at success.  Although..... this is one of the hardest summers we have had in record.  You should perhaps delay any planting until the fall, or at least until enough water has come to give your plants a chance at successfully establishing themselves. Once established, any native plant should be able to hold its own with a minimum  of care.

Now, you asked "what can you plant"?  There are a lot of choices out there.  The Wildflower Center keeps lists of recommended species.  You would want to use the list for Central Texas or perhaps the one for the Edwards Plateau. I tried to sort the Edwards Plateau list to get  only those adapted to dry soil, with no signs of moisture, and the list only shrank by 1/3 [to 256 species], so you have lots of choices to work with.

If you are looking for a grass, then Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) is a native that is well adapted to this climate.  The Wildflower Center has been doing a fair bit of research and recommends a 3-grass mix as the best approach.  Other individual grasses that have a good appearance include Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly) or Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feathergrass)Salvia farinacea (Mealy blue sage) would look good amongst the grasses.

Cactus/Succulents are always hardy to dry climates.  Consider Hesperaloe parviflora (Red yucca), Yucca rupicola (Twistleaf yucca), Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista) or any of the the classic Agave species.

Wildflowers can add a touch of color.  Conisider Chrysactinia mexicana (Damianita), Dalea greggii (Gregg dalea), Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup) or any of several Verbena species.

So, here are some good choices.  As I noted above, there are 256 species on the list, most of which will be suited to your growing conditions!  For even more information, you can read the Wasowski Books listed in the references, you can visit the City of Austin "Grow Green" website, check out the Hays County Extension Office, or just c'mon in to the Wildflower Center and visit with us!


From the Image Gallery

Bouteloua dactyloides

Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Mealy blue sage
Salvia farinacea

Bouteloua dactyloides

Mealy blue sage
Salvia farinacea

Red yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

Twistleaf yucca
Yucca rupicola

Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

Gregg dalea
Dalea greggii

Chrysactinia mexicana

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