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?


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

Saturday - December 22, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Texas native shade plants for metal troughs in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Interested in finding Texas natives that would do well in metal troughs in the shade.


Okay, here's the thing - We can give you a link to our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants, we can give you instructions to do a search on our Native Plant Database for shade plants native to Central Texas, we can even help you with the kind of soil you need for the plants you select, but we can't give you very precise information on the use of metal troughs. We don't know if we are looking at shallow troughs that will only hold small annual and perennial blooming plants, or deep watering tanks that could possibly accommodate a tree. So, we went Internet diving and found these websites that will hopefully fill in the gap in our expertise:

Apartment Therapy How to Build a Raised Bed in a Metal Trough

Planet Natural Raised Bed Gardening

Two Men and a Little Farm Galvanized Water Tank/Trough Vegetable Gardens - please note the instructions on preparing drainage in those tanks

Now, since we don't know what scale of gardening you want to get into with the metal troughs, we are going to teach you to use our Native Plant Database to find herbaceous blooming plants (herbs), annuals and perennials that will tolerate shade. In the Database, using the Combination Search, select "Texas" for the state, "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) under Habiit, and choose the amount of sunlight under "Light Requirements." Those are the most essential characteristis but, if you wish, you can go on to select for "evergreen" or "deciduous," projected mature height, even bloom time or color. However, the more charcteristics you choose, the fewer choices you will have. To help you learn how to use the Native Plant Database, we are going to make a list of some plants native not only to Texas but to the Travis County area, selecting on "herb" and "shade." You can rerun the same search changing all the characteristics for your own purposes. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, soil needs, etc.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin)

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Hydrocotyle umbellata (Manyflower marshpennywort)

Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern)

You can then search on "tree," "shrub," or whatever other habits you are interested in growing.


From the Image Gallery

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum

Calyptocarpus vialis

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Manyflower marshpennywort
Hydrocotyle umbellata

Cinnamon fern
Osmunda cinnamomea

More Container Gardens Questions

Container plants for terrace in New York City
April 25, 2009 - What flowering plants would you recommend that will grow well on a 16th floor terrace ,with all day sun in NYC?
view the full question and answer

Potted Plumbago, struggling with the heat, in Spring Texas
June 29, 2011 - Why do some of the leaves of my plumbagos that are grown in large, well-draining planters turn brown? The brown starts on the tips, then extends to the whole leaf. They get several hours of west aft...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pots outdoors in winter in Virginia
October 02, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I was wondering what plants would be best to grow outdoors, in pots, in Virginia, in the winter? This is a lot of restrictions but we just need 2-3 plants for our office pati...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for wood planter box in Houston
August 04, 2011 - Hi, I'm making a long wood planter box/bench for my wood deck. The area gets direct sun only in the late afternoon/evening and the deck serves as a play space for our one-year old son. I'd like to...
view the full question and answer

Holding an Acer rubrum in a container for two years
October 10, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am thinking about ordering a Red Maple tree that is cultivated from Mount Vernon. I appreciate the historic nature of such a tree. The tree will be shipped to me and is ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center