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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - November 10, 2004

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Soils, Watering
Title: Poor drainage in wildflower bed
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a flower bed that has given me difficulty because it has poor drainage but typically receives sun for most of the day. Salvia gregii was the only survivors for the initial landscaping attempt. Since then, I planted plumbago, lantana, firebush, fall aster and butterfly weed. The leaves on my lantana are mostly green (a few brown leaves) but have the texture of paper. I only noticed because I bought 2 lantana plants from the same store and I planted one in the bed (2 months ago) and kept the other one in its original container (its leaves are soft and all green). Is this a watering issue, as I feel they are both being watered/fertilized similarly or is it some other issue? Also, I do have a dog and I don't know if that would figure into the equation. In general if you also have specific guidelines for watering this bed I would greatly appreciate your suggestions.

ANSWER:

It sounds as if you need to tackle the poor drainage in your flower bed. The remedy will depend on what type of soil you have--thin soil over limestone typical of the area west of Georgetown or the heavy clay of the Blackland Prairie east of the city.

You can help the drainage of the clay soil by tilling it and adding compost and/or mulch to it. Your local nursery should have a selection of mulches and composts. Dillo Dirt, is an excellent compost that is created by the City of Austin Water Utility from recycled material and is available in Austin, Georgetown and the surrounding area.

If you have thin soil over limestone, what you need to do is to bring in some topsoil to add with the compost and mulch to the existing soil to create a layer over the limestone of several inches. After your plants are established, a good soaking every 5-7 days should be sufficient--depending on weather conditions such as temperature and wind. Be sure the roots are getting a deep soaking.

Regarding your lantana, you should check the leaves for sucking insects. If you don't see anything obvious, try shaking the leaves over white paper. If you have mites infesting your lantana, you should be able to see them on the paper. You can read lantana horticultural advice at the Clemson University Extension Service web page and on the Wildflower Center web page.

Now, about your dog--unless he is digging in the flower bed or sleeping on top of the plants, I doubt that he is part of the problem.

 

More Watering Questions

Resourses that are being taken away - Tiffin OH
April 03, 2013 - What are resources that are being taken away from humans and organisms?
view the full question and answer

Texas Pistachio trees dropping leaves in Austin
June 09, 2010 - I have several Texas Pistachio that are about 13 years old. Despite good rainfall in Travis county this year, they seem to be losing most of their new leaf growth now in early June. Leaves are simpl...
view the full question and answer

Plants around swimming pool
June 23, 2009 - What kind of plants can I plant around my swimming pool and will not be harmed by the chemicals of the pool?
view the full question and answer

Defining drip line on trees from Austin
August 08, 2011 - When you say that trees should be watered at the "drip line," do you mean that literally? I assume that the drip line means at the outside edge of the leaves or branches. Does that mean that waterin...
view the full question and answer

Watering a vegetable garden in San Marcos TX
March 24, 2012 - Can you give me a general idea how long to run my drip irrigation on my raised vegetable garden? Currently I use it twice daily for one hour. The soil feels slightly moist but not very damp. Should...
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