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?


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

Saturday - April 28, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Trees
Title: Speed of growth on plants from Plant Sale from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hello, I recently attended the native plant sale and bought several plants for a sunny curbside bed in central Austin. Due to financial constraints I stuck with the 3 inch varieties so I could buy 3 of each type. They are planted in groups and look beautiful even as babies. I can't wait to see the day that the plants mature and fill in to give privacy and curb appeal. I am wondering how long each plant will take to reach maturity, again, they are the 3 inch sizes now. Here are the plants I bought. They are in a sunny location with good drainage: Red Yucca, Mealy Blue Sage, Square Bud Primrose, Mexican Feather Grass, Wrights Penstemon, Bulbine, 1 gallon sized orchid tree. I spaced each according to their full size and am really curious how many years it will take. Thank you!


We are going to give you links to our webpage on each of these plants. In general, we can't predict how quickly a plant will reach its full size, but perennials usually take at least 2 years to begin to flower, and then will thicken and grow taller from there. You can sometimes find out from the website if the plant is fast or slow-growing, and also make sure you have the proper conditions for each plant; is it getting enough sun, the right amount of water, etc?

The bulbine that you listed is not in our Native Plant Database, nor did we find it on the Spring Sale Plant List. This website on Bulbine frutescens from the Master Gardeners of Pima County, AZ states that it is a native of Africa. Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which they grow natively, we wonder if you got the name mixed up? Anyway, we can't tell you anything about a plant by that name. Here are the links to the other plants you listed:

Hesperaloe parviflora (Red yucca)

Salvia farinacea (Mealy blue sage)

Calylophus berlandieri (Berlandier's sundrops)

Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feathergrass)

Penstemon wrightii (Wright's beardtongue)

Bauhinia lunarioides (Anacacho orchid tree)


From the Image Gallery

Red yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

Mealy blue sage
Salvia farinacea

Berlandier's sundrops
Calylophus berlandieri

Mexican feathergrass
Nassella tenuissima

Wright's penstemon
Penstemon wrightii

Anacacho orchid tree
Bauhinia lunarioides

More Trees Questions

Protection of live oak trees from covering by concrete patio
February 02, 2008 - I am thinking about pouring a large cement patio around my live oak trees in my yard. I live in Rockport Tx. How far should the edge of the cement be, from the base of the tree? Will the patio kill th...
view the full question and answer

Is Esperanza a deciduous or an evergreen plant?
March 08, 2009 - I've read that Esperanza/Tecoma Stans is an evergreen. I planted one last year that seemed very healthy, but it dropped its leaves in late fall and looks (at least) dormant now. Will it come back o...
view the full question and answer

Alternatives to tuliptree and red maple in Central Texas
August 03, 2007 - I live in southwest Austin, TX, nearby a creek. The soil is very heavy with clay. I've been perusing web sites for trees, and we like the "Summer Red Maple" and "Tulip Poplar" trees very much, m...
view the full question and answer

Are blue spruce (Picea pungens) poisonous?
May 30, 2009 - Are blue spruce trees poisonous at all? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Pecan leaves falling off the trees in Austin, TX.
August 08, 2012 - Why are the pecan tree leaves turning black, sappy and falling off the trees, in great quantities? This has happened since the recent rains, all through the Allandale area.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center