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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Friday - August 26, 2011

From: Wichita Falls, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Xeriscapes, Planting, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs, Trees, Wildflowers
Title: Need suggestions for plants for a bird/small wildlife refuge in Wichita Co, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

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 County to provide food and shade for birds, squirrels, etc?

ANSWER:


That’s a good idea, and I hope lots of people follow your lead. Let’s do this in two steps; first go to our How To Articles Page and read the article “Wildlife Gardening". You might find some of the other articles interesting as well.

Next, I will introduce you to our Native Plant Database which contains 7,161 species of plants that is searchable by common name and scientific name.

There are several ways to use the Database, but we are going to start with the Recommended Species List.  To do this, go to the Native Plant Data Base and scroll down to the Recommended Species List box. Clicking on the map will enlarge it so that you can click on North Central Texas. This will bring up a list of 105 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in North Texas. This is more information than you need for now, so go to the Narrow Your Search box to the right of the screen, and Select Texas under State. As you can see, you can sort through these names in various ways and get lists of different plants to use in your “refuge”. As an example, select Grass/grass like under Habit, Perennial under Duration, and check Sun under Light requirement, and Dry under Soil Moisture. Click on the Narrow Your Search button, and you will get a list of 9 possibilities. Clicking on the Scientific Name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that contains plant characteristics, growth requirements such as soil type and pH, and water needs, and photos. Its important to match the plant's needs to your growing conditions.

Following this procedure, you can generate a list for shrubs, trees, cactus, etc by altering the choice under Habit. Changing your selections for Light Requirement and Soil Moisture will also change you list.

For some help closer to home, you might contact the folks at the Wichita County office of Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

 

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