Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Wednesday - March 12, 2008

From: Mansfield, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Hardy, inexpensive perennials for Mansfield, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to fill two flowerbeds that are in full sun mostly and right next to the house. I want something that can live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and is pretty hardy. I also don't want to spend a lot of money to fill up the beds, this is a rental house. Any suggestions would be great.

ANSWER:

The first thing you want to do is choose plants that are native to that area, as those will need the least maintenance. Since native plants are already accustomed to the soils, rainfall, heat, cold, etc. of the area in which they grow, they will require less (or no) fertilizer, be more resistant to insects and disease and get along on the normal rainfall, or at least, less watering. Another variable is how long you plan to remain to enjoy the garden you are planning? Small flowering shrubs, and perennials that bloom fairly early in their life cycle will probably give you more satisfaction than bedding plant annuals, perhaps purchased already in bloom. And some evergreen plants chosen for their leaf color and texture will enhance the garden even when they are not in bloom. We're going to give you some suggestions and then show you how to browse our Native Plant Database to make alternative choices.

On our website, under "Explore Plants", there is a "Recommended Species" entry. We have recently added recommended native plant species for the separate areas of Texas, as it is so big and the ecologies in it are so varied.We went to the Recommended Species for North Central Texas and got 105 suggestions. However, some of these were trees, large shrubs, etc., which you obviously don't need in your situation. So, we clicked on "Narrow your Search", put in your requirements, and got 15 suggested perennial blooming plants. We chose 4 that are personal favorites, but you can do the same search and pick out others you prefer. Next, we went back to the same list of 105, and selected on "Shrubs," which gave 4 choices, only 2 of which we really like. So, we added "Grasses" to the list, got 8 suggestions and picked out 2. Grasses, while their blooms are not showy, are good space fillers, adding a different look and texture, and holding their places in the garden virtually year round.

Herbs (flowering plants)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Liatris elegans (pinkscale blazing star)

Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower)

Shrubs

Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena)

Salvia greggii (autumn sage)

Grasses

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Now, go to this Native Plant Suppliers list of Texas nurseries that specialize in native plants.There are five listed in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Having formerly lived in Arlington, we would personally recommend both King's Creek Gardens in Cedar Hill and Weston Gardens in east Fort Worth. You should be able to purchase small plants that you choose, and get them in the ground before Summer swoops down on us.


Asclepias tuberosa

Echinacea purpurea

Liatris elegans

Ratibida columnifera

Lantana urticoides

Salvia greggii



Bouteloua gracilis

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Pruning of Desert Hibiscus Coulteri from Lubbock, TX
October 20, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We have in our garden this year 2 volunteer Desert Hibiscus Coulteri----quite lanky! I notice on your website under "comments" someone notes they should be cut back "nearly...
view the full question and answer

Black chokeberry edible from Huntsville ON
May 04, 2013 - Can the fruit of the black chokeberry be eaten??
view the full question and answer

Tree for on top of sewer lines from San Antonio
March 16, 2013 - I am looking for an evergreen small tree with taproot to plant in a very small front yard near the sidewalk and possibly on top of or nearly on top of sewer lines. Would a Mt. Laurel be the choice? ...
view the full question and answer

Connecticut Plants for a Steep Slope
September 09, 2015 - I am looking for the best plants to retain a steep, dry, fully shaded slope in zone 5, Connecticut. It must be deer resistant. Plant height is not a factor.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of shrub with thorns and purple flowers
July 05, 2011 - I have a small tree or shrub, it has very small or thin thorns on the branches. It blooms in April / May. The flowers are purple. My mother-in-law said that it has been around for over 100 years, b...
view the full question and answer

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