En Español

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

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!

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

Pollinating moth of Arkansas Yucca from Arlington TX
May 15, 2012 - What is the pollinating moth of the Arkansas yucca. I have Desert willows which is the larval host for white-winged moth, but the yuccas are still not seeding. What other larval hosts plants can I p...
view the full question and answer

Survival possibility of transplant of sucker from oak tree
May 15, 2006 - My neighbor has a young oak tree in his front yard. It has small leaves and round acorns and once a year sprouts shoot up at its base. The neighbor was kind enough to let me dig some up to try to tr...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover plants for a shady North Carolina yard
March 20, 2016 - Ground cover erosion control for heavily shaded area in Cary, North Carolina. Current landscapers use strong blowers for leaf control. This blows away any seeds, loose soil and mulch. Tree roots ar...
view the full question and answer

Grafting to a cherry laurel for edible fruit in Austin
July 01, 2010 - I was the one who asked earlier about grafting to a Cherry Laurel. I will happily graft a local plum on it, say a Mexican Plum or American Plum or one of the naturalized peaches (a friend has an India...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Pacific dogwood
November 21, 2015 - When do I plant Pacific dogwood seeds? How deep and far apart should they be planted? The elevation will be around 5k.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center