En Español

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

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

Dying branches on Texas Mountain Laurel from Kempner TX
September 14, 2012 - The branches on my Texas Mountain Laurel are very dry and brittle. The leaves are also starting to die. The tree has been in my yard for six years and prior to that it sat wrapped in burlap for ov...
view the full question and answer

Possible transplant shock in Red Oak in Albany, TX
October 20, 2015 - We planted a new tree last spring which we were told was a Texas Red Oak. The soil where it was planted is hard clay. We have had a watering bag on it and have watered an average of 2x per week throug...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

Yucca rostrata needs some help in Austin, TX.
September 16, 2013 - We planted an expensive 5-6 foot Yucca rostrata last fall. It bloomed beautifully in the spring. We installed an irrigation link to water the recently planted areas with succulents, viburnums, spart...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Salvia Mystic Spires in Chesterfield VA
May 30, 2009 - Last August, our local Lowes had these beautiful, unusual blue perennials on the discount rack called "Salvia Mystic Spires". For 50 cents each, they looked terrific, so I bought all they had, about...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center