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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

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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Sunday - March 17, 2013

From: Fort Worth , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Native perennials for Ft. Worth TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Pants, I have two large planters around the back side of my saltwater pool where there is no decking. (sloped landscape) 8'long x 3' wide. I need low growing perennial plants that will take full sun in Texas heat. I would like to also have some color because the property backs up to a very green woodsy area. Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER:

On our Recommended Species page, we have a list of "Just for Texans" plants that specialize in the various areas, ecosystems and soils of Texas. For Fort Worth, we have chosen the Post Oak Savannah to find plants for your planters. Every plant webpage on this list comes directly from our Native Plant Database, but using a list specific to your area makes selection easier.

Using the sidebar on the right-hand side of that list, we will select "sun" for Light Requirements and "herb" (herbaceous blooming plants) for Habit, as well as "perennial" for Duration. After we make some selections from that, we will run the search again using "shrub" under Habit. There are several low blooming shrubs that would add some substance and color to your planters.

Before you begin selecting plants, we suggest that you read A Guide to Native Plant Gardening from our How-To Articles. This explains why Mr. Smarty Plants recommends only plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants will be grown; in your case, Tarrant County. We also suggest you read our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants. What you are dealing with is actually a large container, which gives you the possibility of improving the soil in which you grow your plants. If you look at the paragraph heading the list of plants in the Post Oak Savannah, you will note that clay soil is pretty prevalent. Clay soil can have a lot of nutrients in it, but has very poor drainage. Adding some compost or even sand or decomposed granite to soil you dig up on your property can help the plants in the planter. Containerized plants often suffer from root rot because the wet clay soil compacts around the roots and they drown.

Follow each plant link below to find out the growing conditions for that plant, the amount of sun and moisture it needs, bloom color and times, anticipated size of plant, etc.

Herbaceous blooming plants for Ft. Worth:

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer's beeblossom)

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena)

Hibiscus coccineus (Scarlet rose-mallow)

Liatris elegans (Blazing star)

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose)

Penstemon cobaea (Wild foxglove)

Salvia farinacea (Mealy blue sage)

Blooming shrubs for Ft. Worth:

Aloysia gratissima (Whitebrush)

Erythrina herbacea (Coralbean)

Verbena halei (Slender verbena)

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

White gaura
Oenothera lindheimeri

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Scarlet rosemallow
Hibiscus coccineus

Pink-scale blazing star
Liatris elegans

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

Mealy blue sage
Salvia farinacea

Whitebrush
Aloysia gratissima

Coralbean
Erythrina herbacea

Texas vervain
Verbena halei

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