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
29 ratings

Thursday - February 21, 2008

From: Bennington, NE
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: The most important part of growing plants.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

In your opinion what is the most important part of growing plants.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants isn't sure whether you are asking "What is the most important part of a growing plant?" or "What is the most important thing to do for growing a plant?", so I will try to answer both questions.

1. What is the most important part of a growing plant? The answer is that all parts are important and have their particular job to do. The roots are responsible for anchoring the root and holding it in place. They also absorb water and nutrients from the soil to be distributed to the rest of the plant. The stem of the plant supports the leaves and the flowers and serves as a transport for water and nutrients throughout the plant. Stems of some plants also carry out photosynthesis and make food for the plant. The leaves are where most of the photosynthesis occurs to make food for the plant's growth. The leaves also help the plant maintain the proper water balance through openings on their underside called stomata. Finally, the flowers of the plant make pollen to fertilize ovules that are also part of the flowers which will then produce the fruits that contain the seeds to produce the next generation of plants.

2. What is the most important thing to do for growing a plant? The most important thing is to learn what the best growing conditions are for your plant and then try to provide them. For example, some plants like shade, some like partial shade, and others like full sun. Some plants grow best in acidic soil and others grow better in alkaline soil. Some plants can grow outside in temperatures near or below freezing, others start losing leaves when the temperature goes below 40 or 50 degrees F. The amount of water used by a plant is very important. Some desert plants require a very small amount of water and need it very infrequently. If they receive too much water, their roots will rot and they will die. Other plants require that the soil they grow in to be moist at all times.

 

More General Botany Questions

Define monoculture from St. Croix Falls, WI
May 30, 2014 - What do you call a dense stand or carpet of one species of wildflower? Our botany professor told us but that was 40 years ago!
view the full question and answer

Native North American bulbs
August 19, 2011 - I saw your list of 4 lilies native to the Northeastern United States, which was very helpful. What other bulbs are native to North America? Although I garden in Connecticut, I am interested in learn...
view the full question and answer

The Designation of Annual and Perennial Plants
July 25, 2014 - Sometimes when researching a plant I will find it listed as both annual and perennial. I understand that some plants will be perennial in a warm climate and die in a colder zone, but it is still a per...
view the full question and answer

Fragrant Texas wildflowers from Waco TX
July 28, 2013 - Hi, I'm interested in looking at any Texas Wildflowers which have attractive aromas which I can distill essential oil from. Any ideas? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Do plants grow better under artificial or natural light?
May 25, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, So do plants grow better under artificial lights, or sunlight???? and if so what happens when they are growing? Which seedling sprouts first??? What happens as they grow? I a...
view the full question and answer

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