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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

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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Wednesday - August 13, 2014

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Flowering ofPluchea odorata in Houston, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I sprouted Pluchea odorata seeds this spring, but the plants seem too small to bloom this year. Although your website characterizes this plant as an annual, do you think it will survive the Houston winter and come on next year as a biennial? Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants

ANSWER:

Lets begin by using our Botanical Glossary to check out some terms.

Annual
A species that grows from seed, flowers, fruits and dies within one year's time. See also, Winter Annual.

Winter annual
An annual species that arises from seed in the summer or fall of one calendar year and completes its life cycle in the spring or summer of the following calendar year. E.g. Texas Bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis.

Biennial 
A plant that takes two years to complete the flowering cycle. Typically it grows vegetatively the first year and flowers and fruits during the second year before dying.

In this case, your Pluchea odorata (Sweetscent) may be acting as a winter annual if it survives the winter.

This is a bit confusing, but here are a couple of links that can help you understand the interesting lives of flowers:


 http://assoc.garden.org/courseweb/course2/week2/page4.htm

 http://www.proflowers.com/blog/annual-perennial-biennial-flowers

 

From the Image Gallery


Sweetscent
Pluchea odorata

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