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

Thursday - September 06, 2007

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


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.


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

Xeriscape demonstration garden
October 30, 2007 - I am working with the city of Schertz to rejuvenate a xeriscape demonstration garden. We want to plant a hummingbird/butterfly garden using native plants. The current bed is currently overrun with ber...
view the full question and answer

Decline of Japanese ferns in Austin
June 16, 2008 - I've enjoyed beautiful Japanese ferns in my shaded garden for about ten years. They are looking spent and straggly, despite fish emulsion, compost,and lots of mulch and soaker hose watering in the s...
view the full question and answer

Allelopathc qualities in sunflowers
June 19, 2007 - I have a sunflower patch in the corner of my backyard (Maximilians, common sunflower, and silverleaf sunflower)and would like to use the spent stalks (sans the seedheads) as mulch in the fall. Howeve...
view the full question and answer

Area under live oaks from Austin
October 08, 2012 - We have many live oaks in our mostly shaded half acre. While I have tried to plant mostly native plants, often beneath them, the plants are showered with leathery leaves, acorns and sap, while oak sp...
view the full question and answer

Replacing a Mexican ash with a live oak in Rockport TX
April 25, 2010 - I live in the Texas Coastal Bend (Rockport, TX). I recently lost a huge Mexican Ash, probably 45 years old. The trunk measures 11'6" at ground level, and gets progressively larger from there up. Its...
view the full question and answer

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