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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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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!

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Wednesday - June 25, 2008

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Information about cenizo care and care of non-native tibouchinas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I just bought some tibouchinas and need some tips. I plan to plant them in an area that gets sun until about 2pm, then shade for the rest of the day. Will these plants thrive in this environment, or what are the best conditions for them? How far apart should I plant them, and how large can I expect them to grow in full-sun and part-shade conditions? Will Leucophyllum frutescens also thrive in a sun-till-2pm area?

ANSWER:

Well, Mr. Smarty Plants can't be of too much help with your tibouchinas since they are not native to North America and our focus and expertise are with plants native to North America. Tibouchinas are native to the tropical regions of South America—many are native to Brazil. We don't know what species you have, but T. urvilleana seems to be a popular one. You can read about its care from Floridata.com or try Googling 'tibouchina care' for other sites that have instructions for their care. Since you just bought your plants you could also go back to the store where you purchased them to see if they have care instructions. Our advice is to never go away from the store with a plant without care instructions in hand.

Now, we can tell you about Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) since it is native to Texas, albeit more suited to the drier southwestern regions than humid Houston. However, it will grow in Houston and can grow up to 5 feet high and sometimes taller in landscaped settings with watering. It does best in full sun. It will also grow in part shade (2-6 hours of sunshine per day) but the more sun, the better off it will be. Watering in the summer will make it grow faster, but overwatering it or poor drainage may kill it. It is adapted to dry climatic condidtions.


Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

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