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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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Tuesday - February 16, 2016

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Butterfly Gardens
Title: Plants for a fairy garden
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hi Smarty.. I would like to create a fairy garden for my 3 year old daughter this spring in a 4ft x 2ft space. Do you have any suggestions on what native plants would be great for this?


What a charming idea! Not knowing the available light for your area, I've come up with 3 categories of plants—ones that require sun to grow well, those that grow well in sun and part shade and those that grow well in part shade and shade.  Please read the GROWING CONDITIONS section under each species to find out what the other growing conditions are.


Lindheimera texana (Texas yellowstar) requires sun to grow well and flower for a very long time.

Aristida purpurea (Purple threeawn) is a grass that requires sun and has fluffy purple flower stems.



Penstemon cobaea (Prairie penstemon) grows in sun and part shade.

 Phacelia congesta (Blue curls) grows in sun and part shade.

Oxalis drummondii (Drummond's wood-sorrel) grows in sun and part shade and has beautiful pink flowers and umbrella-like leaves that look like three-leaf clovers that a fairy could sit under for shelter from raindrops.



The first two of the next plants have hanging flowers that fairies could have a nap underneath.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) grows in part shade and shade.

Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana (Hinckley's golden columbine) grows in part shade and shade.

 Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet) has beautiful lavender flowers that bloom early and keep blooming for a long time.  They grow in part shade and shade and will grow well in deep shade. 

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) is a grass that grows in part shade and shade and has flowers that suspend gracefully.

Adiantum capillus-veneris (Southern maidenhair fern) has foliage that is very fairy-like and grows in part shade and shade.

Anemia mexicana (Mexican fern) is another fern that grows in part shade and shade.


An added benefit of your fairy garden is that the plants listed above attract butterflies, moths and hummingbirds! 


Many, if not all, these plants will be for sale at our 2016 Spring Plant Sale (Friday, April 8 for members only; Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10 for the general public).  Check the 2016 Spring Plant Sale page nearer the time of the event to find the list of available plants for sale.  You can also check our National Suppliers Directory to look for local nurseries or seed companies that specialize in native plants.

Acknowledgment:  Many thanks to Tatiana, the Fairy Queen, for her recommendations. (Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream).


From the Image Gallery

Texas yellowstar
Lindheimera texana

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

Blue curls
Phacelia congesta

Drummond's wood-sorrel
Oxalis drummondii

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Hinckley's golden columbine
Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana

Missouri violet
Viola missouriensis

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Southern maidenhair fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris

Mexican fern
Anemia mexicana

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