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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - May 19, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Transplants
Title: Transplant shock for non-native Plumbago auriculata
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted some full plumbago plants that were in containers, in a partially shaded area, they had beautiful flowers when I purchased them, but have since lost them all and the plant is looking very wilted. I watered it at first and then it rained off and on for a few days, but I heard that plumbagos like to be left alone, what gives?

ANSWER:

The first thing we thought of when you described your plant problems was transplant shock. Especially when you buy plants that have already put so much energy into blooming, you need to give them extra tender loving care, maybe for months. Since this plant is a native of South Africa, it does not appear in our Native Plant Database, but we found an article on Plumbago auriculata on a Floridata website. From this article we learned that the plant prefers light sandy soil, need full sunshine, and is considered a subtropical. We would suggest that you first trim away about a third of the upper structure of the plant, including dead flowers. They may very well bloom again this year, but right now they need a rest and you need to save the plant the struggle of getting water up to those top branches. Now, stick a hose into the hole and dribble water, very gently, into the hole until water shows on the surface. If it doesn't drain away within about 30 minutes, you have drainage problems. Repeat this about every other day, especially now that it's turning hot, until the plants begin to perk up. They are fairly drought resistant once they are established, but until then, they need regular water.

 

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