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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 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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Thursday - March 31, 2011

From: Texarkana, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Native plants for Texarkana, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I've been searching for a dependable list of attractive north east native plants, for gardens, landscaping, etc. Specifically, native flowers and shrubs.

ANSWER:

We assume you are talking northeast Texas as opposed to, say, New York or Massachusetts. We answer questions from all over North America, but since your address is Texarkana TX, we will go with that. The best thing we can do to help you is teach you how to use our Native Plant Database. Once you have learned your way around the database, you'll be able to search for all kinds of plants, their growing conditions and so forth. Following the plant links will take you to a page on that plant with information on light requirements, moisture preferences, bloom time and color, expected size, preferred soil, etc. That will be far more useful to you than for us to give you a list of plants which might not like your soil or needed more sun where you wished to plant, or even had the wrong color blossoms. We'll use a herbaceous blooming plant as an example, and you can go from there.

Just to start you thinking, look at our list of plants for the Pineywoods which, if you look at the map of Texas at the top of the first page, you will see includes Bowie County.

Begin by going to our Recommended Species site. Click on East Texas on the map, which will give you a list of 133 plants of all kinds native to East Texas. Using the sidebar on the righthand side of the page, select "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant), then Narrow Your Search. When we did this, we got a list of 47 blooming plants native to your area. If you have more specific needs, you can select on Light Requirements, Soil Moisture, even selecting what color flowers you want, and when they bloom. Each specification you add, of course, will narrow your range of choices of plants. We will walk you through one blooming plant and you can go from there to choose more blooming plants, plus shrubs, trees, vines, etc. that will suit your purposes.

For our example, we chose one of our own favorite flowering native plants: Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed). This USDA Plant Profile map shows that it does, indeed, grow as a native to Bowie County. Follow the plant link, and from our webpage on that plant, you can learn that it will grow to about 2' tall, is perennial and deciduous, and blooms orange and yellow from May to September. Butterflyweed requires low water use and either sun (6 or more hours of sun a day) or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) and prefers well-draining sandy soils. It is a larval host for the Monarch and Queen butterflies, so don't spray those caterpillars, they are baby butterflies. The flowers are also a nectar source for pollinators like bees and butterflies. There are Propagation Instructions, a list of Benefits of the plant, and even seed sources. There are pictures on the page, on which you can click and get a larger version.

So, you see you can apply these instructions to select any plant native to your area that you wish, find out how to take care of it and what benefits it has, and make your own dependable list.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Asclepias tuberosa


Asclepias tuberosa


Asclepias tuberosa


Asclepias tuberosa

 

 

 

 

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