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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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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!

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Sunday - June 08, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Problems with Copper Canyon Daisy from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We had 3 copper canyon daisies. Two of them bloomed profusely last year, but only one has come back this spring. We cut them all back as instructed. When it was clear that two were not coming back, we pulled one of them and the roots seemed very much alive, but the above-ground wood was clearly dead. Why?

ANSWER:

Tagetes lemmonii  (Copper Canyon Daisy) is not listed in our Native Plant Database. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows it (with the plant code TALE) growing natively in Arizona. Searching the Internet on "Copper Canyon Daisy" we found this site from the Native Plant Society of Texas.

From that website, we noted this information:

"Commonly, Copper Canyon daisy blooms in both spring and fall. The main flowering period, however, is in late fall."

Just taking a guess, we are thinking that perhaps with the late severe cold snaps we had in Austin, that perhaps the upper part of the plant froze. The roots were protected by the warmth of the Earth, and just hadn't gotten around to pumping sap with nutrition and moisture up into the visible part of the plant. Plants will do that to protect themselves; if the roots freeze, the plant will die because it can no longer get that transfusion of nutrients that the roots have been saving for it. You did the right thing to trim off the upper part in the Fall last year but just jumped the gun a little this year expecting upper-plant growth.

From Floridata, here is more information on the reaction of this plant to cold weather.

 

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