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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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Thursday - November 07, 2013

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Lists, Propagation, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for church gardens in Ft. Worth TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Second attempt. Our church has many gardens in Fort Worth, TX. There are gardens for blue,red,yellow,white,purple,orange,pink,mixed,community garden,roses, and more. I am interested in the largest bloom in each color. I am interested in the true color. Not light purple for blue. See some I found on your website. Also I would like to get the seeds from you all to start them to flourish in the garden and come back every year and help keep weeds out. I do not want sunflowers. They are nice until they turn into weeds. I like perennial low water requirements. We are also across from an elementary school and they participate in we occasionally help them. Commelina erecta var. erecta Commelina erecta L. var. erecta Day Flower, Whitemouth dayflower Commelinaceae (Spiderwort Family) USDA Symbol: COERE Native Status: L48 (N), PR (N), VI (N) Lupinus nanus Lupinus nanus Douglas ex Benth. Ocean-blue lupine, Sky lupine Fabaceae (Pea Family) USDA Symbol: LUNA3 Native Status: L48 (N) Penstemon cyananthus Penstemon cyananthus Hook. Wasatch beardtongue, Platte River penstemon, Wasatch penstemon Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family) USDA Symbol: PECY2


We were not sure what you meant about "second atttempt." Thinking that perhaps you had sent us a previous question to which you did not receive a sufficient answer, we went hunting it in our Mr. Smarty Plants Answered Questions section. We didn't find one that we could specifically tie to you, but we did find a previous Mr, Smarty Plants answer from Fort Worth that we think might be of help to you. Our real problem is that we are not exactly sure what your question is, not quite how to treat it, so we are going to break it down into sections and try to give you resources so you can find answers for yourself.

First, on the subject of plants for your Church gardens. You will note in the previous answer to which we referred you that we only deal with plants native to  North America AND to the area in which the plants will be grown; in your case, Tarrant County, TX. So, if you are asking for the largest blooms in a number of categories, we can only direct you to search for information on the Internet if they are non-native. We can tell you that most roses are native to China, so we have no webpages on them, but here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer dealing with growing roses in Texas. In all cases, the size of the bloom is going to be a function of the plant or cultivar of that plant, as well as the soil, amount of water available and, most especially, the amount of sunshine the plants will get. If you search on Google for a specific flowering plant, you will get articles and advertisements telling you the range of size of the blooms, but if the growing conditions are different, then the bloom size will be different, too.

Second, the precise color of a bloom falls in the same category - bloom colors can change with the seasons and are always in the eye of the beholder. You could call something  blue that I might swear was purple. You can go to our Image Gallery, use the same search method as in the database and get a page of pictures of that plant. If you get no results, that means we have no pictures at all of that plant. There may be only one or two or a bunch, and you can see bloom colors, but again, we don't know how true those colors are to your eyes. Clicking on an image will give you an enlargement, but it won't change the color.

Third, you expressed a desire to purchase seeds from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The Gift Shop usually has small packets of seeds native to the Central Texas area, but there is no regular stock list, and they are not available online; you must visit the store to purchase them. Otherwise, the only times seeds are available at the Center are during our semi-annual (April and October) Plant Sales, at which times Native American Seed has a tent onsite to sell native seeds. That link will take you to their online catalog where you can order seeds.

Finally, you had a list of plants and provided us with the USDA Plant Code for each; in effect providing a way to answer questions on them for yourself. So, if you have not yet been introduced to our Native Plant Database, allow us to do so. Following that link to our database, you can search on the Plant Code or the scientific name if you have either or type in the common name. If you get the message "zero results" it means either that we don't have that common name in our database, or that the plant is non-native to North America (or we don't spell it the same way you do). We will take the three plants you listed to demonstrate.

Commelina erecta var. erecta (Day flower) USDA Plant Profile Map shows it grows only in one county in far South Texas and not (natively) in Tarrant County at all.

Lupinus nanus (Ocean-blue lupine) USDA Plant Profile Map shows it does not grow natively in Texas at all but only in California and Nevada

Penstemon cyananthus (Wasatch beardtongue) USDA Plant Profile Map shows it does not grow in Texas, either, but in Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming

We followed each link to our webpage on that plant to see what information we could get. If you don't get everything you need to know (Mr. Smarty Plants does not know absolutely everything about every plant, but please don't let that get around), then scroll down to Addtional Resources at the bottom of that webpage and click on the Google link, which will give you a whole bunch of sites on that plant. If you want to know to what areas a plant is native, you can click on the USDA Plant Profile link also in Additional Resources. You will get a map of the United States with the states where that plant grows natively in green. Click on the state where you are gardening and you will get a map of that state with the counties where it grows in green. In lots of states, it will be native all through the state, but in large, diverse states; for instance, Texas and California, few plants will grow in every single county. This is how we got the information that we put on the list above.

We hope we covered everything; hopefully, with our explanation of resources available, you can find answers that fit your needs. 


From the Image Gallery

Whitemouth dayflower
Commelina erecta var. erecta

Ocean-blue lupine
Lupinus nanus

Wasatch penstemon
Penstemon cyananthus

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