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 - April 30, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Seasonal Tasks, Seeds and Seeding
Title: Too late to begin planting in May in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is it too late to begin planting in May? I live in Austin Texas and have finally completed my plans for a native Texas landscaping (plants and grass) of my front yard. I'd like to get the landscaping done this year but worry that it may be too hard on the plants to plant them in May. What do you recommend?

ANSWER:

If it's not too late, it's getting pretty close. Please read this article on Gardening Timeline from our How-To Articles to get some feel for the best times to do planting. This is not to say you have to leave your landscape bare until Fall, that's not a good idea, either, because weeds know no season. However, you need to get going just as soon as possible.

Don't try to transplant anything bare-root unless it's absolutely necessary. Container-grown plants that have been kept watered and look healthy have a better chance. And don't go out and buy everything at once. At the nursery, the plants are often in shade areas, and are watered regularly, but if you have a whole lot of stuff at home at once, it is going to start wilting and suffering. Unless you have professional help digging and planting, you could lose your plant before you ever get your hole dug.

Especially woody plants, shrubs, trees, need to get in the ground and start getting water, as they are going to be prone to transplant shock. You should stick a hose in the fresh soil around the plant and let water dribble slowly into the hole until water appears on the surface. This should be repeated every couple of days until the plant seems well-established. Bedding plants and plugs of grass can also be planted, but, again, will need some extra water for a while. If you take any plant out of its pot and it seems to be root-bound, that is, the roots are going around and around in the shape of the pot, clip some of those roots. It may seem brutal, but the plant needs to be forced to put its roots out into the soil where it is going to grow. If those roots are left alone, the plant will strangle itself. Any planting is better done late in the afternoon, where it will begin to cool off and not be such a strain on the plant. In Austin, the heat is a far greater threat to our plants than any cold could ever be.

Seeds for wildflowers still should be held and planted in the Fall, in the natural cycle of planting the same time the plants are dropping their seeds. In case you have not already read it, see this article on A Guide to Native Plant Gardening. And, finally, consider the soil you are putting those fresh young roots into. See this article on Composting; this is something you can start in the summer and keep doing year round. It is good for all soils, improving texture and drainage and helping keep the roots cool (or warm, in the winter). If you haven't already purchased or ordered your native plants, here is a list of area Native Plant Suppliers that can help you.

 

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Spreading bluebonnets in pasture from Ledbetter TX
April 29, 2013 - I've found a small patch of bluebonnets in my back pasture in Ledbetter, tx. What is the best method of encouraging their spread across the pasture? I've heard that one can pull up the plants and ...
view the full question and answer

Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
March 16, 2014 - I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?
view the full question and answer

Severely cutback sloping soil in Dripping Springs TX
May 09, 2010 - We have 5.5 acres off Henly Loop just north of Hwy 290 about 10 miles west of Dripping Springs, TX. The former property owners carved out soil from a sloping area to get soil for the driveway. Doing ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Baptisia from Lancaster OH
August 24, 2012 - My Baptisia has gone to seed. When can I plant these seeds? Do they need strat? (zone 5)
view the full question and answer

Cottonwood trees shedding in Orion MI
June 23, 2010 - How long can I plan on my cottonwood trees (wild) shedding long wide cotton strips? This is a first for my trees. Usually it is fluffy small puffs.
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