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
3 ratings

Wednesday - June 08, 2005

From: Lake Jackson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Native Texas plants that will grow in sandy soil and salt tolerant
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am in the US Coast Guard and we are looking to plant some wildflowers. The plants will be near saltwater and may get exposed if the area floods during a tropical storm or hurricane. Being on the Gulf Coast in the city of Freeport, TX, what wildflowers will grow in this area? Also, I would like to know if bluebonnets will grow in this type of environment?

ANSWER:

If you choose plants that naturally grow along the Texas seashore your chances of success are greatly improved. You need plants that will grow in sandy soil and are salt tolerant. To learn more about those I suggest you find a copy of "Wildflowers and Other Plants of Texas Beaches and Islands" by Alfred Richardson. 2002. Austin: University of Texas Press. You could check your local library or bookstore for a copy. There are also copies available at the Wildflower Center's Wild Ideas store. You can reach them by telephone at 1-877-945-3357.

Now for suggestions, we can start with a couple of plants that are salt tolerant: 1) Coralbean (Erythrina herbacea), a shrub-like plant with beautiful red flowers, and 2) Sea Ox-eye (Borrichia frutescens) with yellow daisy-like flowers.

Then, there are those wildflowers whose common names indicate that they can flourish on the coast: 1) Sea Purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum), 2) Beach morning glory (Ipomoea imperati), 3) Salt-marsh morning glory (Ipomoea sagittata), 4) Beach evening primrose (Oenothera drummondii), and 5) Seashore Mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica).

Other possibilities that do well in sandy soil are: 1) Chisme (Portulaca pilosa), 2) Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), 3) Retama (Parkinsonia aculeata) 4) White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), 5) Prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida), and 6) Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides).

Three popular wildflower species grow well in sandy soil. 1) Golden-wave (Coreopsis tinctoria), 2) Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), and 3) Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta).

You might also consider some ornamental grasses such as 1) Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata), 2) Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and 3) Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis).

The Sandyland bluebonnet (Lupinus subcarnosus) will grow well in sandy soil, but it is doubtful that it would do well in an area very near the coast. However, Brenda Smith in her book, Lazy Gardener's Guide, reports "profusions of bluebonnets blooming" in people's yards on the Bolivar Peninsula not too far from you. So, you might give them a try. Ms. Smith also reports other wildflowers growing along the Bolivar Peninsula that you might also consider for your garden.

For nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants, you can check National Supplers Directory.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflower field for sewage leach field from Olga Washington
August 01, 2012 - I am interested in planting a large native wildflower field at a resort in the San Juan Islands in Washington State. It would be over a sewage leach field for many cabins and bathrooms. Are there any ...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
November 29, 2004 - We would like to know if the bluebonnet wildflowers are suitable for New Orleans and, if so, which months should they be seeded. Otherwise what can you suggest for our humid climate. We like blue, lav...
view the full question and answer

Best Asclepias for Kansas City
October 06, 2014 - I have a question about the Asclepias. I live in the Midwest, in Kansas City with hardiness zone 5b or 6. I want to know which of these plants would be good for me in a cultivated garden. It's not to...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Texas bluebell (Eustoma exaltatum)
June 27, 2006 - Very recently on the 6 o'clock news there was a report about The Center joining UT. There was a picture of a large, purple lily-like/trumpet flower with a yellow pistil. I recall my Grandmother call...
view the full question and answer

Orientation of roots of Ranunculus
April 11, 2006 - I need to know how to plant "Ranunculus". I don't know which way to put the rhizomes/bulbs in the ground. Do they go flat side down or strange long tubular things upward ?
view the full question and answer

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