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

Native bulbs for the northeastern U. S.
November 23, 2007 - What native bulbs could we plant in the Northeast? Can they only be planted in the fall as Dutch bulbs are?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Century Plant in St. Petersburg FL
August 09, 2009 - CENTURY PLANT PROPAGATION
view the full question and answer

Hybridized Indigo Spires having problems in Wimberley, TX
August 19, 2010 - I planted 7 Indigo Spires from one gallon containers in May and now each plant is about 18" tall. 4 of the 7 fell over about 2 weeks are. The plants still look healthy with no dropped or curled leav...
view the full question and answer

Male and female Maclura pomifera trees in Boaz AL
September 06, 2010 - To grow a Maclura pomifera female tree, do I have to have a male tree for the female to produce fruit?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Emory Oak acorns
May 08, 2005 - Dear Wildflower Experts, By any chance do you know how we could obtain some Emory Oak acorns to plant on our farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland? I know itís not a given that the trees would grow...
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