En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - March 28, 2007

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Propagation of Mountain Laurel by seed
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I harvested the seed or nut from our Mountain Laurel this spring and I would like to propagate them in containers for at least a year and then transfer them to the ground. I live in Hays County, TX in rocky "Hill Country" terrain. Do I remove the hull (some of them came out spontaneously) or plant them in the shell? Is there a pre-planting treatment? How deep should I set them? Is there a particular orientation? Should I use the local soil? Should they get started in shade/partial shade/sun? How much watering?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has some personal experience starting Sophora secundiflora (mountain laurel) and has these recommendations:

1. Yes, remove the shell.

2. Jill Nokes in How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest says: "Germination ... is delayed by a hard seed coat. Seeds may be filed or mechanically scarified with a knife." Another way to scarify the seeds is to rub them with coarse sandpaper. The idea is to penetrate the seed cover enough to allow the seed to imbibe water. Another method that gives almost 100% germination is to soak the seeds in water for 2-4 weeks before planting. Since the seeds are poisonous, you should soak the seeds in a container that you can throw away, such as a used plastic bottle. Mr. Smarty Plants had about 50% yield on untreated seeds just planted in potting soil in a flower pot.

3. About 2-3 times the width of the seed should be a good depth for planting. Jill Nokes also advises planting in a pot that is tall enough for the little laurel to be able to develop a good long root system in the pot that will support it when it is transplanted to outdoors.

4. There is no particular orientation to plant the seed.

5. You can use potting soil or local soil with potting soil added if your local soil is very clayey.

6. They should be grown in partial shade. Jill Nokes recommends 30% shade in the first year.

7. Water often enough to keep the soil from completely drying out. Be sure that the pot allows good drainage.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Propagation Questions

Germinating Hibiscus martianus, Heartleaf hibiscus
June 11, 2013 - Is there some secret to getting Heart Leaf Hibiscus to germinate from seed? I have tried several times, but have had no luck getting them to germinate.
view the full question and answer

Growing Sophora gypsophila from seed
April 23, 2008 - Sophora gypsophila B.L. Turner & Powell Do you have any information on growing this small tree from seed? I have a few seeds and would like to try. What conditions break seed dormancy? I have grown ...
view the full question and answer

Rooting cuttings in water from Rifle CO
July 11, 2012 - Found russian sage lavender stems from cutting. Need to find out if I can root them in water? I also have found rose cutting; wondering if I can put them in water to root? I have a western chokecher...
view the full question and answer

How to tell the girls from the boys in wax myrtles (Morella cerifera)
May 14, 2010 - How would I be able to identify whether my wax myrtles are male or female plants? I was given two plants last fall (that came from a family members back yard) and the person who gave them to me didn'...
view the full question and answer

How close to a male tree will a new female persimmon need to be planted to ensure pollination in Austin, TX?
June 17, 2009 - I have a male Texas Persimmon in the back corner of my yard. I would like to plant a female Texas Persimmon in the front yard, more than 100 feet away? How far away do you think they should be place...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center