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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 - July 18, 2007

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Encouraging bloom on non-native Batwing Erythrina
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi! I have a Batwing Erythrina in the ground next to my driveway in full sun in Houston. It's nine years old and is about twenty feet tall, but it does not bloom. What can I do? Thanks for your sage advice, Mr. Smarty!

ANSWER:

The focus of research and the extent of our expertise is limited to those plant species native to North America. Your plant, Erythrina vespertilio, Batwing Coraltree, is a native of Australia. We do not know why your tree is not flowering. However, some plants produce flowers only after some stress. If your tree is getting lots of water and fertilizer, you might consider withholding one or both early in the growing season when it would normally initiate flower buds. This might be all of the impetus the tree needs to flower from then on.
 

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