Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - July 23, 2013

From: May, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Wildlife Gardens
Title: Plants for pollinators in Brown County, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am attempting to plant on our family property a wide range of native plants for the central Texas area (May, TX). The flowers, bushes and trees that rely on pollinators, in particular bees, in order to have a steady supply of pollen must be a combination to provide food through out the year. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

On our Recommended Species page you will find a section with the title VALUE TO BENEFICIAL INSECTS with links to lists of plants with special benefit to honey bees, native bees and bumble bees.  These lists contain plants that are not necessarily native to your area, but you can begin by using the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to limit the list to those that occur in Texas by choosing "Texas" from the Select State or Province option.  For the first list, Special Value to Native Bees, limiting the list to Texas reduces the number of species on the list from 1,444 to 580.  You can further limit the list by choosing a particular General Appearance (e.g, Herb, Shrub, Tree, etc.).  Choosing "Shrub" from General Appearance narrows the list to 75 and this is a reasonable number to scroll through.  You could also add other criteria (e.g. from Light Requirement or Leaf Retention) to narrow it even more.  To focus on having plants blooming for pollinators throughout the year you can choose various months from the Bloom Time slot to limit your list.  Once you've done that there is still the fact that Texas is a really big state and plants that grow in eastern Texas or far west Texas are not likely not to grow well in Brown County.  Let's say you are interested in one of sumacs (Rhus sp.) perhaps Rhus copallinum (Winged sumac).  On its species page scroll down to the bottom and you will find a link to the USDA Plants Database under Additional Resources.  When you click on that link and go to the USDA Plants Database page for that plant you will see a distribution map.  Clicking on Texas on that map will give you a map showing the distribution of counties where the plant has been reported as growing.  If you click on this Texas map again it will have the names of the counties on the map.  You will see that Rhus copallinum has been reported mostly in eastern Texas but nowhere close to Brown County—so Winged sumac is not likely to grow well in Brown County.  If you do the same exercise for Rhus trilobata (Skunkbush sumac), you will find that it has been reported growing in Brown County.  (Please note that a few of the distribution maps on the USDA Plants Database won't have county distribution maps for various states, only the one showing the distribution among states.)  For any species you choose from the lists, be sure to check the GROWING CONDITIONS section on the species page in our Native Plant Database to see that they match the conditions of your site. 

This a wonderful project you are doing.  Not only are honey bees in trouble from colony collapse disorder, but native bees are declining as well, mainly from loss of habitat.  Very best of luck with your project!

 

More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Wildlife management tax exemption
May 15, 2007 - I live on 10 acres of prairie land near Austin. I want to learn about drying and pressing and gluing and preserving wildflowers as art in pictures and bookmarks and cards. My attempts have failed an...
view the full question and answer

Keeping bugs out of a Texas home
June 29, 2015 - I'm slowly growing my gardens into natural habitats for birds, bees, butterflies and other little critters but would like to keep them outside of my house. Being in central Texas it is difficult to ...
view the full question and answer

wildflowers for bees and hummers in central Texas
June 16, 2011 - I'm building a native habitat for different hummingbirds and bees at the Inks Lake Fish Hatchery, and I was wondering what kind of native plants in Texas attract these creatures but are also low main...
view the full question and answer

Establishing wildflowers on a slope in Virginia
August 18, 2012 - From Roanoke Virginia. I have a steep bank rising from one side of my driveway to woods above. Different areas vary from full sun, to half day shade. It is possible to carefully walk/stand on it, we a...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent erosion in IL
August 02, 2012 - We just got done building a house and have leveled all of the dirt piles. We do have a row of straw bales to help prevent the dirt from washing onto the neighbors property. It is the wrong time of ye...
view the full question and answer

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