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
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

Sunday - November 11, 2007

From: Kailua, HI
Region: Hawaii
Topic: Container Gardens, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Loss of blooms in potted plants in Hawaii
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My lanai is in strong afternoon sun and no matter what "full sun" plants I try to grow they quickly stop blooming. Plumeria, Hibiscus, Echinacea, even Bougainvillea...they continue to grow but lose all color. Is there any way to get the color back in my potted plants?


We find ourselves in an interesting dilemma. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the protection and propagation of plants native to North America. While you live in a state of the United States, you don't live in North America. We are, however, always happy to help out with questions on potted plants, most of which are not native to the area in which they are being grown, and not quibble about their genealogy.

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower), of course, is native to Texas, but apparently not to Hawaii. Since Hibiscus is the State Flower of Hawaii, I think we can safely assume that it is native to Hawaii. Plumeria is native to Mexico, Central America and Venezuela, but has spread to many tropical and sub-tropical areas, including Hawaii. The Bougainvillea is a native of the coast of Brazil, but also flourishes in warm, subtropical and tropical settings. The weblinks we have given you will all give you good information on the culture of the various plants you are concerned with.

Without too much information on culture of plants in Hawaii, we'd like to give you a few things to consider as you attempt to determine why your plants are not blooming as you would like them to. First, the soil you have the plants in-is it a good, sterilized potting soil? We know nothing at all about the soil types in Hawaii, but if you are just digging soil out of the ground for your pots, that could be causing you some problems. Second, watch the nitrogen application. Too much nitrogen in a fertilizer can really "green up" a plant, but discourages flowering. Higher phosphorus content should help with the blooming. Third, where are you buying your plants? If you're buying them from a home supply company or florist instead of a reputable nursery, you may be getting plants that have been "forced" into blooming. We have received more than one lovely, profusely blooming plant, but when we attempted to move it from the plastic pot in which it was delivered, we discovered that there was no significant root system. Those plants were never meant to last beyond the blooms they came with. And, finally, just how much sun are the plants getting? All of these plants apparently need "full sun". We usually define full sun as at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.

We realize we haven't really answered your question, but hope we have given you some avenues to explore to answer them for yourself.


Echinacea purpurea



More Container Gardens Questions

Why do the leaves of my potted Esperanza plant look droopy?
August 13, 2009 - My Esperanza plant leaves look droopy. I have it in a big pot and have for 3 years.
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen — or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees — could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Plants for planting in gourds
March 15, 2009 - I enjoy painting dried gourds. This spring I got the idea to paint a gourd and cut holes in the side and plant some small blooming flowers. I have seen "hen and chickens" growing out of holes in the...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a lizard terrarium
October 24, 2006 - My brother is setting up a terrarium for his lizard and wants advice on some species to put in the tank. He wants plants that generally fit the below description. Can you think of anything fairly c...
view the full question and answer

Growing conditions for Giant Coneflower from San Antonio
August 09, 2013 - Rudbeckia maxima is considered to be a perennial plant for the sun but I have had a difficult time maintaining it in a pot in full sun before attempting to plant. Do you feel that it will survive and...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center