Explore Plants

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
    
 

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 Soils Questions

Growing Native Plants in Juniper litter from Wimberley, TX
October 04, 2010 - Junipers create an environment under their canopy that prohibits growth of other plants. I have a virgin lot that has been cleared of many juniper but has remaining heavy natural leaf mold containing...
view the full question and answer

Wisconsin Ground Cover for Acid Soil
July 09, 2012 - What type of native wisconsin ground cover plants do best on acidic bare areas under pine trees such as blue spruce?...and where is best source for these plants or seeds? Thanks so much for your help
view the full question and answer

Failure of highbush blueberry plant to produce in New Hampshire
July 25, 2008 - One of my highbush blueberry plants completely stopped producing. What can I do to revive it?
view the full question and answer

Amending soil for butterfly garden in Houston
April 01, 2013 - My girl scout troop will be planting a butterfly garden at a middle school in Houston. In researching plants to use, we have come across some such as echinacea, rose vervain, galliarda and Texas gay...
view the full question and answer

Tolerance of rosa setigera of acidic soil from Cobden IL
October 20, 2012 - How tolerant is Rosa setigera of acid soil? I would like to plant it in my (very large) garden but the loess soil has a pH of 4.5. Thank you.
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.