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?


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

Tuesday - April 15, 2008

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Watering, Shrubs
Title: Failure to bloom of Texas Mountain Laurel
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My +/- 4 yr old Tx. Mountain Laurel, has never bloomed. It is in full sun. I sometimes (minimal) fertilize it. I've pretty much planted it and let it grow. Its been pruned back last year when someone suggested that and it still hasn't helped. What else can I try?


You are not the only one to face this problem with Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel). Please read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer to a similar question. Without being too repetitive, two or three possibilities come to mind. In the first place, you are in Houston, while this plant is used to growing in rocky soil on limestone ledges. This is not to say it won't grow in Houston, but make sure your drainage is very good. Your tree shouldn't be transplanted, it is very difficult to do so because of its roots, and if they are damaged the tree will most likely die. However, you can be careful not to have the tree in the path of any unusual water drainage, and water it much less than other garden plants. Second, this tree is often referred to as a "problematic" bloomer, meaning you might get blooms and you might not, period. Third, while its cultural information calls for full sun to part shade, it will bloom better in full sun. Prune after the flowering period (February to March), as it blooms on year-old wood, and cut way back on nitrogen fertilizer. Any plant will lose interest in blooming and put on more leaves if too much nitrogen is applied.


More Shrubs Questions

Foundation Plants for Leander, TX
June 05, 2015 - Looking for suggestions for a narrow bed 2-3 ft. wide, 32 ft. long against my house. Full evening sun with morning shade. Considering Salvia greggii with some type of companion plants/grasses ...
view the full question and answer

Western Poison Oak Sap Transfer
January 26, 2016 - My partner is a park ranger and constantly exposed to poison oak. He gets infected sometimes but mostly seems to tolerate it pretty well. I, on the other hand, keep getting reinfected with it, all ove...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of leaves in Texas Mountain Laurel from Austin
June 25, 2012 - I planted a Texas Mountain Laurel in my Austin, TX yard this January. The tree was good sized (about 5 feet tall) when I planted it. Recently the leaves of the tree have started to turn yellow alon...
view the full question and answer

Limp leaves on Texas purple sage in Magnolia TX
July 22, 2010 - Recently planted Texas purple sage, some of it looks healthy and has new blooms, but a few of the plants have limp leaves and are thin at the bottom. I read the article on cotton root rot, but am not ...
view the full question and answer

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center