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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - June 27, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Restoration of mistflowers suffering from wet season
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have planted gregg's mistflower in a bed that receives morning sun and afternoon semi-shade. It was beautiful and covered with blooms and butterflies this spring, but suddenly has become brown and sick looking near the roots and stopped blooming. Should I cut it back to the ground, or just leave it rank looking?


As I note you are in Austin, you are aware that we have had a very unusual, rainy Spring. We have, in fact, already had more rain than is normal for the whole year. Conoclinium greggii (Gregg's mistflower or palmleaf thoroughwort) is a native of this area and, thus, is probably pretty shocked by all that water on its feet. Many plants of this sort require good drainage, which may mean a raised bed, or at least a soil that water can drain through before the roots of the plants in it drown. However, it's a little late for that for your mistflowers now.

I have always believed that you should never waste a root. First, of course, go ahead and trim back the long, lanky stems and dead flowers, but be sure and leave as many healthy-looking leaves as possible. Hopefully, as the rains come to an end and normal summer dryness sets in, the roots will be able to recover, but they must have leaves for nutrition. Since this plant blooms well into the Fall, perhaps dryer weather will permit it to attract the butterflies again this year. If it does not bloom again this year and appears alive but not flourishing, you might consider transplanting it to another spot where the soil will drain better, but still with the morning sun and afternoon shade you have been giving it. Always transplant in cooler weather when the plants are more dormant. Texas native plants tend to be pretty tough and we can hope these mistflowers will rise to bloom again.


From the Image Gallery

Gregg's mistflower
Conoclinium greggii

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Non-native Chamaecyparis pisiflora turning brown in Fuqua-Varina NC
December 10, 2012 - I have a "Soft Serve False Cypress" Chamaecyparis pisifera'Dow Whiting PPAF, that has only been in the ground for 6-7 months. I just noticed that the branches and leaves are starting to die, turni...
view the full question and answer

Is yellow tulip poplar alive from Gilbertsville PA
March 30, 2013 - How can I tell if my yellow tulip poplar is alive? thank you
view the full question and answer

Leaves on new water oak turning brown from Matagorda TX
May 30, 2013 - We had water oaks planted in January when they had no leaves. Leaves came on but are now turning brown.
view the full question and answer

Mystery pest eating portulaca blooms
July 02, 2006 - I'm from Texas and I purchased some portulaca from a local nursery about three weeks ago and planted them in the front yard....with plenty of sun. Here's the problem. The foliage seems very health...
view the full question and answer

Grubworms in Austin Flower Bed
March 09, 2011 - How do I get rid of grubworms in my flower beds?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center