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?


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


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

Trees for clay soil from Charlotte TX
August 25, 2013 - We have an area in our yard that even Esperanzas won't grow. It is near another that does great. Six Esperanzas are planted in a north/south row about with 10' between plants, the southern most plan...
view the full question and answer

Berms to hold water around roots
December 05, 2008 - I planted new flower beds this November. There are currently dirt 'berms' around each plant - creating a well for water to seep into the immediate plant area. How can I keep these berms from erodi...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on yaupon in Ft. Worth
April 23, 2009 - I planted a Pride of Houston Yaupon Holly in January in full sun. It is blooming little white flowers right now for spring, but a lot of leaves are turning yellow. Do you know what is causing this? ...
view the full question and answer

Combining native shrubs for hedge in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Smarty, Please tell me what the definitions are for all the various water, soil moisture, drainage and light requirements mean. Are the definitions global? I live in Central East Austin and inten...
view the full question and answer

Overwatering Texas Mountain Laurel from Rosanky TX
June 06, 2012 - I just read your article in the Statesman about over watering Mt.Laurel. Now I know why my lovely 15 year old tree is dying. We put in new grass this winter and I watered too much. Is there any hop...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center