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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - September 06, 2007

From: Burlington, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Wildflowers
Title: Seed regrowth through mulch
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants: I have planted a perennial and wildflower garden and would like to put mulch down to control the weeds and retain moisture. Will the plants that drop their seeds be able to re- seed through the mulch and can the perennials spread. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

Well, see, when you put that mulch down to control weeds, you are also controlling seeds that you want to sprout. The function in that respect is to cut off light from the seedlings, thus keeping them from developing. Certainly, the perennials will be able to spread by clumping, or growing from the roots. You would then get more plants by dividing the clumps every couple of years.

If you want to grow plants from seeds, you really have two choices. One is to plant seeds in flats, then transplant to four-inch pots and then put them in the ground when they have a good root system. The other is to forget about the mulch.

If you decide to go with planting seeds in flats, go to this Arizona Cooperative Extension site, which gives you excellent information on all the steps to take.

Mulch is very attractive and a good mulch will decompose and help the soil. But, weeds do still manage to come up, and the mulch will need to be replaced from time to time, as it either decomposes or washes off in hard rains. In your climate, you may need the mulch to protect the roots of your perennials over the winter. So, it's your choice.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Encouraging native grasses to flourish
August 23, 2007 - We have been trying to restore the yard around the house with native grasses and forbs for the last two years. The soil is clay and nothing seems to grow. We have distributed 5 truck loads of mulch, p...
view the full question and answer

Decline ot Heartleaf rosemallow from Austin
March 26, 2012 - My tulipan del monte -a new small plant from the wildflower center--did great all winter and was forming a new flower bud, just died in a matter of a few days. It looks like it "dried up", no visib...
view the full question and answer

Recovering neglected garden space from Grapevine TX
March 22, 2014 - I live in Grapevine TX (Dallas). I just moved into a house where almost the entire large backyard is covered by oak trees that shed tons of leaves throughout our mild falls/winters. The yard has not...
view the full question and answer

Perennials for flower bed in Humble TX
July 28, 2010 - I have a 10 foot by 10 foot flower bed that needs to be replanted and I am located in Houston, TX so what would be some good perennials to plant that are good to grow in this heat? I have been told L...
view the full question and answer

Loss of bloom on Fremontodendron californicum in California
June 11, 2009 - The flowers on my Flannel Bush all died at once I have noticed a sappy substance at the base of the trunk. There are still some flowers on bush but most are dead. It has been blooming since Feb. Is ...
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