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 - November 17, 2012

From: Stephenville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Soils, Herbs/Forbs, Trees, Vines, Wildflowers
Title: Re-landscaping in Stephenville, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I prefer native plants. We are re-landsacaping, so I need grass, ground cover, vines and flowers to plant in our back yard. We have many trees and the whole yard is shady. A small area might be considered part shade. We love butterflies and birds, so we prefer native plants that would attract them. We also prefer plants that are perennial and require less water. I don't know enough about soil to know what we have now, but we plan to have some soil brought in to prepare the ground for planting. We live in Erath County, Stephenville, Texas.


Sounds like you are going to be busy for a while. To get started, let me introduce you to several features of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center webpage. First are the two pages with our  “How-to Articles”, and our “Step by step Guides”. The articles here will answer, or give you hints, for most of the questions you have asked.

The next feature is our Native Plant Database. This option allows you to search for 7,364 native plants by scientific or common name or choose a particular family of plants. Scroll down to our Recommend Species Lists and click on View Recommend Species page. Click on Central Texas on the map, and you will get a list of 156 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. The Narrow Your Search box on the right side of the screen allows you to search for tress or herbs or grasses. For example, in the box, select: Texas under State, tree under Habit, and perennial under Duration. Check sun under Light requirement and dry under Soil moisture. Click on the Narrow your Search button, and you will get a  list of 19 native trees for Central Texas. You can repeat this process to search for shrubs, grasses, herbs, etc. Clicking  on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page which contains a description of the plant, its growth characteristics and requirements, and in most cases images. As you check out each plant, you can note its size , moisture requirements, and benefit to wildlife. Scrolling down the NPIN page to ADDITIONAL RESOURCES and clicking on the species name next to USDA will bring up the USDA PLANTS PROFILE page for that plant. Scroll down that page to the map which shows its US distribution, and clicking on the Texas map will show you if it occurs in Erath County.

As for soil, that’s more complicated.; so much so that there are even people who are known as Soil Scientists.

I’m including three links for you to explore concerning the nature of soil.

Bachman’s Garden Care

Soil testing

Encyclopedia of Earth 

Before you have soil brought in, I suggest that you contact the folks at the Erath County Office of Texas Agrilife Extension. They can advise you about soils and soil testing, and make recommendations about the kind of soil that would be best for the project you have in mind.


More Planting Questions

Vine Choices Scarce in Beaverton Oregon
June 08, 2012 - Hi, I am looking for a hearty vine that we could use to cling to and cover a cement wall that is about 8 feet tall and 30 feet long. It is on the south side of our house but never gets direct sunli...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a redbud sized tree to plant in Tulsa OK.
September 27, 2011 - I am looking for a native tree about the size of a redbud to place in my prairie bed in Tulsa Oklahoma, wildlife friendly trees preferred, thanks!
view the full question and answer

Low maintenance replacement garden in Ashburn , VA
April 30, 2009 - We live in Ashburn, VA (Northern VA). Our house is 10 years old and the contractor grade plants have died. We are planning on digging everything up and re-doing the landscaping in our front yard - r...
view the full question and answer

Removing leaves before transplanting from Miami
August 27, 2009 - What is good idea to remove some leaves before transplanting a plant??
view the full question and answer

pruning crape myrtle (ugh, non-native)
March 05, 2012 - We would like to plant a Dynamite Crape myrtle in front of our front window. They grow 20' to 30'. Can I trim it each year to about 15' to 20'? Should we plant it approximately 5 feet from the ...
view the full question and answer

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