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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Friday - March 07, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) refuses to bloom
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have a Texas Mountain Laurel that gets full sunlight, but does not bloom. It is 4-5 ft tall & 3-4 ft wide & healthy. Is there anything we can do to make it bloom next year?

ANSWER:

It sounds like everything should be ideal for your Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) to bloom. However, Mr. SP has one question? Are you fertilizing it? If you are, don't do it! Here is a quote from a previous question about native plants failing to bloom:

"The problem with flowering shrubs that are not flowering, native or not, is often too little sunshine or too much lawn fertilizer. Obviously, if you have it in full sun in Austin, that is not the problem. Lawn fertilizer, which possibly is being spread a little farther than the lawn, is high in nitrogen for green leaves (or blades) of grass. A plant you wish to flower but give too much nitrogen will get lazy and fail to bloom. A plant has just one goal in life and that is to reproduce itself. To make seed, it must make flowers, but if it doesn't feel just a little bit insecure about its future, it won't expend the considerable energy to create the flowers."

In general, native plants do not need to be fertilized—one of the many advantages for planting native.


Sophora secundiflora

 

 

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