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Thursday - March 07, 2013

From: Montgomery, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Flowering landscape plants for Montgomery TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hello I live in Montgomery TX. I am looking for low growing evergreen flowering plants for the front of my three deep beds. The first plant closest to the foundation is loropetalum, then I have a blue grass so I would like something low dark evergreen with some flowering options.


First, a word from our sponsor. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America  but to the areas in which they grow natively. Case is point: Loropetalum chinense, (Chinese Fringe Flower) is native to, well, China. We will only be recommending plants that are native to Montgomery County, Texas, for your garden and now you know why. The first thing you need to know is what kind of soil you have, especially whether it is acidic or alkaline. We are guessing you have an acidic, sandy soil because of the plants that will grow there. For instance, the Chinese Fringe Flower requires acidic soils, so that's a clue. The point is, if we select plants native to your area, we know they will grow in your soils. If we may, we would like to recommend our "How-To" Article on A Guide to Native Plant Gardening to help you understand why we are native plant advocates.

Looking at the next row in your garden, you called it "blue grass." We found one plant that goes by that description, Mondo Blue Grass, which, according to this article is a low border plant. If this is the plant we are thinking of, it is related to or a cultivar of Liriope muscari (lilyturf) an evergreen grass-like plant native to East Asia, again out of our expertise. What we have heard of it is that it can become quite invasive and difficult to control.

Since you are looking for something low and front-of-the-garden, we will go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search, select Texas, then first on "shrub" for Habit, then another search on "herbs" (herbaceous  blooming plants," for each of those searches we will be unable to select on Light Requirements, because we don't know if you have sun or shade in that area. We will select "perennial" under Duration and then scroll down the page and select 1' - 3' on Height. Evergreen is something else, somewhat difficult, but there is a place to select "evergreen," so we'll start with "herb" and see what pops up. What popped up was exactly one plant, Chrysactinia mexicana (Damianita), which is more a desert plant and the closest it grows to Montgomery County is Travis and Williamson  Counties.

Next we went for "shrub" with the same height and duration requirements. That produced one result, Salvia greggii (Autumn sage), which also grows no nearer Montgomery County than Travis County.

We are probably going to have to eliminate the "evergreen" from your specifications in order to find any selection. Our opinion is that if you leave the "blue grass" where it is, it will be evergreen and quickly fill in that front edge, flowers blue, and you won't have to add anything. Since you did not mention the amount of sun on the area, that handicaps us further in recommending flowering plants. Both of the other plants you mentioned tolerate a good deal of shade, and many of the best native flowering plants need a lot of sun.

We are going to show you how to use our Native Plant Database and make a few suggestions from it with variations in sun requirements and bloom time and color. Using the Combination Search, we selected on Texas for the state, "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) for Habit and nothing else, since we don't know what your sun availability or soil moisture are. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on it to learn more about its growing conditions. At the bottom of that webpage is a link to the USDA Plant Profile on that plant, when you click on that you will see a map of the United States on which states where that plant grows natively will be in green. Click on Texas on that map, and you will get a county map with the counties where it grows natively. This helps to assure that the plant you are considering can do well in your soils, climate and rainfall.

Having gone that route first, we quickly realized there were far too many choices (nearly 2000) because Texas is such a large and varied space. Instead, we recommend you go to our website  on Gulf Marshes and Prairies. The plants in this site are straight from our Native Plant Database, but since it is sorted by location in the state, you will have to work through a much shorter list. Please read the paragraph at the head of this list describing the soils and terrain of your area.  You are almost on the edge of the Texas Pineywoods, also, so you might take a look at that list, too. Before you start looking at webpages on individual plants, you need to know that when we say "sun" under Light requirements, we mean 6 hours or more of sun a day, "part shade" is 2 to 6 hours of sun, and "shade" is less than 2 hours.  Our suggestions are all from the Gulf Marshes and Prairies list:

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup) - evergreen to semi-evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple March to June, sun or part shade.

Coreopsis tinctoria (Plains coreopsis) - annual (will reseed), blooms yellow, brown April to June, sun to part shade

Hymenocallis liriosme (Spider lily) - blooms white February to May, part shade, blooms red,orange, yellow May to July, part shade

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) - blooms red May to October, sun,, part shade or shade

Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm) - blooms white, pink, purple May to July, sun or part shade

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose) - semi-evergreen, blooms white, pink February to July, sun

Phlox drummondii (Annual phlox) - annual, blooms white, pink, red, purple March to June, sun or part shade


From the Image Gallery

Chrysactinia mexicana

Autumn sage
Salvia greggii

Callirhoe involucrata

Plains coreopsis
Coreopsis tinctoria

Spring spiderlily
Hymenocallis liriosme

Standing cypress
Ipomopsis rubra

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Lemon beebalm
Monarda citriodora

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Annual phlox
Phlox drummondii

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