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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Manyflower marsh-pennywort
Hydrocotyle umbellata

Cinnamon fern
Osmunda cinnamomea

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