Wild About Texas – October, 2007

The best anecdote for spring fever is gardening, but apartment dwellers and those who find their teeth grinding while trying to get a shovel through a few millimeters of so-called “soil” may find potted plants to be their only choice if they want to garden at all.

Pots can also help maintain specific growing requirements such as soil type, pH, and moisture levels. For example, you may want to experiment with aquatic plants in a sealed pot. Or perhaps your landscape is designed to thrive without supplemental water but you are willing to pamper a few pots of fern, horsetail, or columbine.

Likewise, in gardens with lush, billowing vegetation, small, delicate plants such as lace cactus, silver ponyfoot, and blue-eyed grass may be overwhelmed. A dish or shallow pot garden is often just the right solution. These same garden miniatures may also be better viewed in vessels mounted at eye level.

Many gardeners use annuals or delicate non-natives in pots but many Texas natives are appropriate for the role, too. Here are a few options:

Aquilegia canadensis or other species
Lacy evergreen foliage, delicate red and/or yellow flowers in spring. Shade to part shade.

Silver ponyfoot
Dichondra argentea
Silvery plants drape gracefully over edges of pots. Needs good drainage. Full sun to part shade.

Lace cactus
Echinocereus reichenbackii
Small columnar cactus with huge fuchsia flowers in spring. Needs excellent drainage and full sun.

Equisetum spp.
Striking vertical texture. Good to contain in a pot, can get out of control otherwise. Tolerates constant moisture and pots without holes. Full sun to part shade. Deer resistant.

Water pennywort
Hydrocotyl umbellata
Umbrella-like round foliage, tolerates poor drainage or pots without holes. Full shade to part sun.

Virginia blue flag
Iris virginica
Spring blooms, nice blades of foliage the rest of the year. Good in a water or bog garden. Part shade to full sun. Deer resistant.

Blackfoot daisy
Melampodium leucanthum
Evergreen. Needs excellent drainage and minimal watering. Full sun. Deer resistant.

Phyla nodiflora
Great trailing over the edge of a pot or hanging basket. Attracts butterflies all summer. Full sun to part shade.

Rivina humilis
Summer blooming and fruiting. Mounding. Fruits are poisonous, traditionally used for facial color. Full shade to part sun.

Autum sage, cherry sage
Salvia greggii
Evergreen. Prune hard in mid-February and after each bloom cycle to keep compact. Frequent bloomer. Full sun to part shade. Deer resistant.

Blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium sp.
Wonderful compact grassy texture; purple-blue flowers in spring. Full sun to part shade. Evergreen in winter (species will vary).

Wood fern
Thelypteris kunthii
Iconic ferny texture. Looks best with ample water. Full shade to part shade. Deer resistant.

For more information about Texas native plants, visit the Wildflower Center’s website at: www.wildflower.org. The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.

About the author: Andrea DeLong-Amaya is the Director of Horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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