Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Friday - June 06, 2014

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Shade Tolerant, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Container plant in difficult sun exposure from Leander TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

HELP!!!! I have a large Mexican terracotta pot on my front porch. This awkward area is facing westward, so receives the full dose of Texas sun after about 3 pm onward. Now here's the catch; my front porch is covered, so it also receives full shade til at least 3pm. I have tried several species that were recommended by my local garden center, but to no lasting avail. I would like something with a little height, say 3 foot round-ish. At this point, anything would help. I almost forgot, I have a drip irrigation system, so water would not be an issue.

ANSWER:

This member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team has a very similar problem. I live on the second floor of an apartment complex facing West. I have a small porch which is my sole outlet for gardening. Over some years of dealing with this type of problem, I have come to the decision that one of the most dependable choices in such a case is native Texas succulents. This does not mean you have to have thorny plants on your porch. All cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti.

These plants are not going to put out constant, conspicuos blooms in bright colors. But they also will not bloom and then quickly die because of blazing sun, reflected off a stucco wall behind them. There are some succulents, like agave, that will save up energy for years to bloom spectacularly and then die. Most of them are not plants you would want children playing with or pets chewing on, but they are almost architectural in shape, usually evergreen and conversation pieces. We are going to list some of the ones we have on our porch right now; follow each link to the webpage on that plant for care, planting, etc. Just as a side note, many succulents, native and non-native, can be purchased at most plant outlets. Those on my porch were all purchased from the Lady Bird Johnson Wilflower Center semi-annual Plant Sales. We also suggest you read our How to Article Container Gardening with Native Plants.

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Euphorbia antisyphilitica (Candelilla)

Hechtia texensis (Texas false agave)

Hechtia glomerata (Guapilla)

Manfreda variegata (Mottled tuberose)

Manfreda maculosa (False aloe)

Manfreda sileri (Siler's tuberose)

Manfreda virginica (False aloe)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas sacahuista
Nolina texana

Candelilla
Euphorbia antisyphilitica

Texas false agave
Hechtia texensis

Guapilla
Hechtia glomerata

Mottled tuberose
Manfreda variegata

False aloe
Manfreda maculosa

Siler's tuberose
Manfreda sileri

False aloe
Manfreda virginica

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Plants for 16th floor of condo in Panama City Beach, FL
May 30, 2012 - My husband and I have a COSI on the west end of Panama City Beach, Fl. I love plants and flowers and live out of state. Our condo is on the 16th floor and directly on the gulf. What type of plants ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on bio-security
June 11, 2005 - Hello, My friend and I are summer interns at the Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve Site in Freeport, Texas. Our jobs as the interns is to find a plant that is friendly to the animals around our...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of Adams needle (Yucca filamentosa)
June 24, 2009 - My friend is changing her flower beds around and is wanting to eliminate an Adam's needle that has been there for several years. She has already dug it up and now is trying to get rid of all the new...
view the full question and answer

Native plants of Taos and Los Alamos NM from Houston
April 07, 2012 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, can you recommend a guidebook for the native plants of the Taos/Los Alamos region? (I'm most interested in forbs.) I'll be headed there in May--is there anything I should es...
view the full question and answer

Yuccas and prickly pears for Warren MI
February 11, 2009 - What type of yuccas and prickly pears will survive in the Detroit, Michigan area? Also, can I grow Santa Rita prickly pear in a pot?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.