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

Tuesday - November 08, 2011

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Shrubs
Title: A 3-6 ft. high overwintering container plant
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I live in Austin, Tx. and am looking for a plant/shrub that I can keep in a ceramic pot through out the winter. It can grow to from 3 feet to six feel.

ANSWER:

Your choice of plants will depend upon the size of your pot and the exposure of the plant to the elements.  Assuming that you have a pot of diameter about two feet and placed in at least partial direct sun, I will recommend the following cold-hardy native plants:

For the standard conifer:  Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) or Juniperus pinchotii (Pinchot's juniper).  These species can grow much larger than six feet, but you can control their size by occasional trimming.

For evergreen broadleaf plants: Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) or Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac). These are relatively slow-growing and have attractive flowers and/or fruit.

Deciduous: Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) loses its leaves in winter but has colorful red berries that persist until spring.

Some other possibilities that grow only 2-5 ft in height: Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly)Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto)Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) and rosemary (not native to this area).

You might consider an evergreen vine climbing on a small trellis: Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine)Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine) or Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle).

Before making your choice, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center article on Container Gardening for tips.  Remember the hot, dry summers that may lie ahead and plan a system to keep the container soil watered appropriately.  All of the suggested plants are fairly drought-resistant, but some moreso than others.

Below find some images from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Image Gallery.

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Pinchot's juniper
Juniperus pinchotii

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

More Shrubs Questions

Native plant for border in central coastal Texas
September 29, 2015 - I am looking for a native plant suggestion for a border along my front porch in central coastal Texas. My site has heavy gumbo soil and strong sunlight. I want something not more than 2 or 3 feet t...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Esperanza in Houston
July 07, 2009 - Esperanza plant. I have 3 of these plant in my flower bed for the last 10 years. They get west sun. Over the last three years they have bloomed initially but then the new growth is deformed. The best...
view the full question and answer

Support for non-native, invasive Nandina Domestica from San Antonio, TX
July 09, 2013 - I consider nandina domestica to be a perfect plant for San Antonio, but see that it is on the list of invasive plants for surrounding eco-areas. How should I respond regarding one of my favorite land...
view the full question and answer

Eradication of mahonia repens
July 27, 2008 - What is the best way to kill and/or remove mahonia repens?
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in California
November 13, 2010 - Where do I find out about the specific root structure of various California native plants? Are there shrubs that have tap roots & hence are good for steep slopes? The genus of any such plants that y...
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