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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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Friday - November 03, 2006

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native plants to make houses for sale more attractive
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I could use your suggestions: I have 2 small houses in Dallas which I am trying to sell, and would like to beautify -- with plants. Currently there are no shrubs or groundcover or trees -- nor anyone living there to water them regularly. I know that this is a really challenging situation, but I wonder if you just might know of any hardy natives which might establish themselves easily and provide some form and color. Many thanks for any and all suggestions, and also places these plants might be available around the Oak Cliff area or anywhere near there.

ANSWER:

Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) is a great ground cover for sunny areas and it sounds as if the areas around your houses might be sunny. It requires little water and little mowing. You can sow seeds, put it in with plugs, or lay sod. It will require a little bit of water to establish it as plugs or sod, but once the roots are established you shouldn't have to water it.

Yuccas are plants that require little care, have interesting foliage, and produce a nice bloom in the spring. Arkansas yucca (Yucca arkansana) and Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida) are both native to the Blackland Prairie. Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) will also do well in the Dallas area.

For low, sub-shrubs that require little water, you could use Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides) and Fern acacia (Acacia angustissima). Taller shrubs that need little care or water are Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) and Black dalea (Dalea frutescens).

Here are four trees that should work:
American elm (Ulmus americana)
Cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia)
Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana)
You can also select trees using your criteria by visiting the Texas Tree Planting Guide from the Texas Forest Service and Texas A&M.

To find nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants, you can visit our National Suppliers Directory

 

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