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Mr. Smarty Plants - Restoration of mistflowers suffering from wet season

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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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

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