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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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Monday - April 29, 2013

From: Sonora, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Narrow strip of groundcover from Sonora TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an area that is right under my patio about 12 feet by 1 ft. I'm looking for something to plant in there. It has afternoon sun, morning shade. I live in SW Texas so it is hot. but would like some type ground cover to grow no more than 2 ft tall if that much.....

ANSWER:

We will go to our Native Plant Database, scroll down the page to the Combination Search, and put in Texas for state, "grass or grasslike" for Habit, "part shade" for Light Requirements, "dry" for soil moisture and 1-3 ft. for Height. We are selecting grass first because we think that is most likely to fill all your requirements. After that, we will try "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants), "succulents" and then "shrubs" under Habit. Before we put any plant on your list, we will check that it grows natively in the area of Sutton County, which will help to ensure that your selection will be tolerant of the climate, soils and rainfall in your garden. You can follow each link on the list to our webpage on the plant to learn what that plant's growing conditions are. We cannot determine what soils you have (clay, sand, alkaline); if you are not sure either, you can contact the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Sutton County. There is contact information on that page, and they can help you with a soil test.

Grass or Grass-Like:

Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feathergrass)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Herbaceous Blooming Plants:

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Dalea greggii (Gregg dalea)

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel)

Succulents:

Manfreda sileri (Siler's tuberose)

Yucca rupicola (Twistleaf yucca)

Shrubs:

Leucophyllum candidum (Brewster county barometerbush)

Mahonia repens (Creeping barberry)

Nolina lindheimeriana (Devil's shoestring)

If you have difficulty finding these plants native to your area in local nurseries, go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zipcode into the "Enter Search Location"box, click GO and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and consultant in your general area. All have contact information so you can check to see if they have what you are looking for before you begin shopping.

 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican feathergrass
Nassella tenuissima

Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

James's prairie clover
Dalea jamesii

Indian blanket
Gaillardia pulchella

Heartleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus martianus

Siler's tuberose
Manfreda sileri

Twistleaf yucca
Yucca rupicola

Brewster county barometerbush
Leucophyllum candidum

Creeping barberry
Mahonia repens

Devil's shoestring
Nolina lindheimeriana

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Ground cover for Brooklyn, NY
January 25, 2013 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a fast growing ground cover for my Brooklyn, NY back yard. The area is nestled between 3 buildings and a fairly large tree, so most of the day its shady, but ...
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Limiting erosion around pond from Brooklyn Park MN
May 20, 2013 - Minnesota resident, wants to find plant limit erosion from pond?
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Buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) and buffalo grass mixes
October 05, 2007 - I live in Austin, TX and have visited the Wildflower Center in the past and enjoyed the display of native grass mixes. Can you tell me about the variations of buffalograss mixes... which ones are most...
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Planting Habiturf in an occasional overflow area
November 14, 2014 - Wondering about putting Habiturf in an area that is for occasional flood overflow. How will the Habiturf be affected by these occasional conditions? I suspect it won't like it and will start to thin ...
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Clearing up the nativity of so-called Baltimore sedge (Carex senta)
November 12, 2009 - Dear Smarty Pants: Hi, did you ever get more clarity on the Carex senta issue (baltimore sedge)? Whether or not it was a wetland grass? I too am in Maryland and was thinking of planting it for a law...
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