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

Friday - March 07, 2008

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Combining yellow columbine and Malvaviscus arboreus
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can yellow columbine coexist peacefully with Malvaviscus arboreus? I have a nice stand of the former and would like to plant the latter to take over when the columbine starts to look ratty in the heat. Would one bully the other out of the garden?

ANSWER:

Well, in our not so expert opinion, we'd be rooting for the columbine and betting on the Turk's cap.

Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana (Hinckley's golden columbine) is probably the columbine best able to withstand Texas heat. It blooms in April and May, and needs some shade to survive. It is a short-lived perennial, but can renew itself by seeding out. Malvaviscus arboreus (wax mallow), commonly called Turk's cap because of the shape of the bloom, also needs some shade, and blooms in July, August and September.

Our experience with Hinckley's columbine was that it would reseed for a couple of years, and then kind of disappear, and it had a bed of its own. On the other hand, when we planted some Turk's cap for the hummingbirds (who will kill for it), it bloomed a lot more than 3 months, and became a monster to beat back. It gets pretty ratty, too, from insect damage and just general summer droopiness, dies back to the ground in winter, and looks really bad, requiring severe cutting back of dead stems, and then comes roaring back. If you were thinking of planting them both in the same bed, letting one bloom while the other rests, that might not work too well. If you were particularly fond of the columbine, we would suggest planting it, in small clumps, in a mixed bed of annuals and perennials that are a little kinder and gentler. With planning, you could probably have color and bloom nine or ten months of the year, and the space where the columbine was drooping would not be so noticeable.


Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana

Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Plants for steep slope in Pittsburgh PA
April 25, 2013 - I have a similar question to one from SC. I live in Pittsburgh, PA. We have a steep slope behind a newly built in pool. What type of plants can I put on the hillside to hold the soil. It gets a ...
view the full question and answer

Browning of leaf tops on Iris plants
April 22, 2008 - My Iris plants bloomed beautifully, now some of the leaves are turning brown from the top down, about half way. Is this normal? What can I do about it and should I cut off the brown leaves? Also, what...
view the full question and answer

Drought-Tolerant Plants for Arizona
July 16, 2015 - Slowly turning south-facing lawn to drought-tolerant plantings with gravel paths. Mature Ponderosa and several blue spruce and junipers surround area. Grass area I'm converting with a few larger tr...
view the full question and answer

Native perennials for Missouri City, TX
March 19, 2014 - I checked all the questions for my area and still need help. What are some native perennials for southeast Texas
view the full question and answer

Sharing Selfheal with Texas Friends
April 25, 2013 - I have discovered selfheal plants in my yard. When and how do I collect the seeds or do I just dig up plants to share with friends? I understand this is actually an herb. I love identifying wildflower...
view the full question and answer

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