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Wednesday - November 10, 2004

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


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.


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.


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