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
8 ratings

Monday - September 10, 2007

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Transplants
Title: Transplanting Turks Cap, when and how
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Pants - We have an enormous healthy Turk's Cap - not the lily, but the one with red flowers(Malvaviscus arboreus v. drummondii) It has also produced a new plant nearby. Please tell us how and when to transplant. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) is a sturdy, self-proliferating native plant, good in shade and beloved by hummingbirds. As days shorten and nights cool, it will begin to drop leaves and become semi-dormant. The preference is to transplant woody plants like this when the weather is cool, both for the benefit of the plant and the planter. We like to trim the bare stems back to several inches tall, mostly leaving those stems to indicate where the plant is, so another gardener doesn't come along and cultivate the root right out of the ground. By the time you get ready to do this transplant, between November and January, there will probably be more "pups" of the original plant popping up around the parent. Get a shovel or preferably a pitchfork in the ground and under the roots, and pop the plant up out of the ground. Sometimes you can get hold of it by a strong stem and pull it out. Move it at once to a prepared bed; that is, one that has the weeds cleared out, maybe some soil improvements like compost in it, etc. A shovel full of dirt taken out should leave an appropriate-size hole for the roots you have just disinterred. A sprinkle of timed-release fertilizer is good, but not absolutely necessary. Drop the roots in the hole and firm up the dirt around it. These plants get big, often 3 to 5 feet tall and more, but tend to grow pretty vertically, so they should probably be planted about 18 inches apart. When you have your bed all planted, stick a hose in the soil at the base of each plant, and let a very slow trickle of water run. Keep an eye on it, don't let it flood or stand in water, move the hose from plant to plant and firm up any plants that want to keel over in the mud.

Being a native, the Turk's cap will not need a lot of care or additional water, and will bloom for months. And the hummingbird battle for territorial rights will entertain anyone who can watch out of the line of fire.


Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Pollination of dwarf wax myrtles in Lucas TX
January 02, 2010 - I recently planted 3 dwarf wax myrtles then realized all were females. Do you know if the full-sized version can be used to pollinate the dwarfs? Any idea how close the pollinator needs to be?
view the full question and answer

Germinating Hibiscus martianus, Heartleaf hibiscus
June 11, 2013 - Is there some secret to getting Heart Leaf Hibiscus to germinate from seed? I have tried several times, but have had no luck getting them to germinate.
view the full question and answer

Wildflower garden with Castilleja indivisa (Indian paintbrush)
January 08, 2013 - I want to start a wildflower garden in my front/backyard. Specifically, I would like to include the indian paintbrush. What is the best way to go about this? Straight in the ground, containers, etc...
view the full question and answer

Propagating Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak)
November 08, 2013 - I am a gardener for the city of San Francisco. I am just curious about the best way to prepare an acorn from Quercus agrifolia for planting. I have heard many ideas about using sandpaper and microwavi...
view the full question and answer

Why do some plants resprout in Spring from Crestwood KY
December 08, 2009 - I am a 5th grade student at Crestwood Elementary School; and one of my classmates came up with an excellent question that I can not answer. Here it is: Why do some plants (like bulbs) resprout in ...
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