En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 19, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, User Comments
Title: Would like a "try instead of" list for non-native plants in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

It would be so helpful if, when asked about a non-native plant, you would do a "try instead of" list. I have about 45 plants to reseach from my landscaping firm, and it's wearing me out to try to find native alternatives for everything from boxwoods to lorepetalums! Thanks for all you do!

ANSWER:

That is a good idea, but it’s often easier said than done. This previous answer is an example of when it works.
The source of the information was the Native Plant Guide (pg 24) prepared by the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT)-Houston Chapter . It’s part of a program called NICE (Natives Instead of Common Exotics). NICE! is now a registered trademark owned by NPSOT which is headquartered in Boerne, TX. 
The Kerrville Chapter of NPSOT has produced the Blue Brochure  that contains lists of recommended native plants for landscaping in the hill country. By the way, the 32nd annual Native Plant Society Fall Symposium will be held in Kerrville in October. The Austin Chapter  is quite active, and holds its meetings at Wild Basin.

Another source of help is our Native Plant Database . It contain 7,239 species of native plants that can be searched by scientific name, common name or plant family. You can generate lists of plants by using the Recommended Species List option, or the Combination Search option. For example, if you wanted a list of evergreen shrubs suitable for a dry habitat in full sun, that were 6 to 12‘ tall, you could go to the Combination Search box and make the following selections; select Texas under State, shrub under Habit, and perennial under Duration.   Check sun under Light Requirement, dry under Soil moisture, and 6-12’ under height. Click the Submit combination Search button, and you will get a list of 29 native species that match these criteria. Clicking on the scientific name of each species will bring up its NPIN page that contains the characteristics of the plant, its growth requirements and, in most cases, photos.

You can also use the database to check out the characteristics of a plant that you find on other lists.

Although we don’t have an exhaustive “try instead of” list, Mr. Smarty Plants thinks that using a combination of these resources may make your job less exhausting.

 

More User Comments Questions

User comment on native grass mixes from Robstown TX
March 21, 2014 - As a followup to my question on seed spreaders, native grass and prairie seed mixes seem a good fit for my location in far western Nueces County which is more semi-arrid than 30 miles away in Corpus w...
view the full question and answer

Comments on white-flowered Mountain Laurel from Austin
December 23, 2012 - Following up on the August 23, 2012, question from Driftwood about the white-flowering mountain laurel, I have found a few more leads to explore. First, there are four more images of white-flowering m...
view the full question and answer

USDA hardiness Zones
May 10, 2009 - I love your site..I don't live in Texas and would like it very much if you would include the zone with plant listings. Thank you for all your hard work!
view the full question and answer

Why website does not have better variety of flowers
April 27, 2008 - Why don't you have a better variety of flowers? I can't find the ones I have.
view the full question and answer

Agarita suggestion for Houston area
March 05, 2013 - Another possible plant for the following question is agarita. The question: "Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Ro...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center