En EspaŅol

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
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
2 ratings

Tuesday - March 25, 2008

From: Schertz, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Vines
Title: Few blooms on native Bignonia capriolata (cross-vine)
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an 8-year-old crossvine that has grown and bloomed beautifully until this year. During the winter it lost all of its lower leaves. What leaves were left had brownish-red splotches on them. It has begun to grow now and has a few blooms at the very top of the trellis. The new leaves look healthy green--no splotches. Two questions: 1. Are the splotches on the old leaves significant? (I can send a picture if you want to see) and 2. How can I get leaf coverage (and ultimately flowers) again on the lower 4/5 of the trellis?

ANSWER:

Two vines that are frequently confused with each other are Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) and Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper). Their blooms and growth habit are very similar, thus the confusion, but the trumpet creeper tends to be much more aggressive, putting out suckers and sometimes damaging structures. We will assume you have crossvine, and the solutions for both are basically the same.

The sudden leaf loss is a little disturbing, but a late frost, or the plant being allowed to get excessively dry might have produced that problem. This is a plant with no significant insect or disease damage, but might sometimes show small spots of sooty mold or mildew. This could be the product of poor circulation. We are inclined to believe it is something in the culture of your plants, rather than pests, that is causing your problems. Basically, flowering bushes need more sun and less nitrogen. If your plant is not getting a lot of sunlight, it can survive, tolerating shade, but it will not bloom as well. And, if you have been fertilizing with a high nitrogen lawn fertilizer, that can certainly cut down on blooms. If you wish to fertilize your crossvine, switch to a high phosphorus formula just before blooming period.

Finally, we suspect that your plant needs a good grooming. Many gardeners cut it down very severely after the bloom period. This will always inspire a plant to try to do better, before it gets taken down altogether. It may be putting so much energy into growing those thick stems that little is left over for blooms and leaves, but every plant needs to bloom in order for the species to survive. Not only that, trimming may also permit more sun to reach the bulk of the plant, as well as improving the air circulation. Crossvines like lots of water (but can survive pretty dry) and nutrients. Compost mixed into the soil will both add nutrients and improve drainage around the roots. So, basically, feed it a little better, maybe water a little more, give the soil a nice dose of nutrients, cut out the nitrogen-high fertilizer, and tidy the plant up once or twice a year. It's a very tough native plant, and your hummingbirds will thank you for what you do.


Bignonia capreolata

Bignonia capreolata

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Plants for floodplain in Fairfield, New Jersey
March 21, 2010 - I have an easy question for you... I hope... We just moved into the floodplains of NJ in Fairfield and are interested in some plants. We would like to know what plants are best suited to grow in flood...
view the full question and answer

Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
October 05, 2011 - Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a...
view the full question and answer

Black-eyed Susans in potting soil on ground
November 12, 2010 - I would like to know if black eyed susans can be planted in just potting soil instead of mixing it in with dirt from the ground? I don't want to leave it in the pots. I want to plant it, but the grou...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in non-native crape myrtle from Wesley Chapel, FL
June 12, 2012 - I just bought a 12 ft. crape myrtle and planted it, giving it plenty of water I think. After 3 days the leaves are wilting and flowers are falling off.
view the full question and answer

Help with composting in Katy TX
March 19, 2010 - I've gone on line and tried to figure out what I'm doing wrong with my compost pile. What exactly is the proper ratio, and the types of plant matter and layers to achieve the optimum decomposition i...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center