Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

Small tree for Northern California backyard
March 05, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a small tree for backyard (west side of house). I'm replacing a Calif.Laurel which is not doing well because it is planted on a downward slope and gets too m...
view the full question and answer

Hanging basket container plants for butterflies and birds
April 08, 2010 - Looking for ideas for hanging baskets that would attract butterflies or birds for interest to a shut-in in North Texas. These would be outside of southwest-facing windows that overlook a paved parkin...
view the full question and answer

Winter plants for windowbox in Piedmont SC
October 26, 2012 - What kind of outdoor window box spruss can grow in upstate South Carolina in the winter months?
view the full question and answer

Plants in wheelbarrow dying in Jacksonville, FL
June 22, 2011 - I planted a wheelbarrow with daisies, petunias and black and blue salvia. the salvia is thriving, but the others died. Is the salvia toxic to them?
view the full question and answer

Plant to cover retaining wall in Carlisle PA
August 01, 2010 - I have a block retaining wall in my back yard. I need to find a quick growing plant that will grow through late summer into fall and cover the wall with limited sunlight.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.