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

Thursday - July 17, 2008

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Blossom fall after rain on Polystachys lutea, Shrimp Lollipop
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in San Antonio and had previously bought shrimp lollipop plants and after the rain we had recently all the blooms fell off. So my question is did it die or should I just leave it alone?

ANSWER:

You had rain in San Antonio? What's going on? In Austin we can't get a break, or a drop, it seems. Anyway, sorry your plant was displeased with the rain. That does seem a little strange, as you usually consider rainwater to be the best moisture. However, on this PlantCare.com site on the Shrimp Lollipop plant (Polystachys lutea), we learned that it is most frequently treated as an indoor plant, since it is a tropical from Peru. And this site warned that the soil in the pot should be moist, but to be careful about watering with rainwater, as the water might be acidic. Another source warned not to water the plant with water that has been through the water softener, as the plant dislikes salt.

Don't treat the plant like it's dead, but try treating it as though it has transplant shock, which it very well may, although you didn't say when you bought it. It could have been already suffering from shock when that rain hit the blossoms, and they were knocked off. Apparently, in proper conditions, this plant can bloom nearly year-round, so a little extra care would probably be worth the effort. Trim off about 1/3 to 1/2 of the upper part of the plant, leaving as many leaves for nutrition on the lower part as possible. Don't fertilize-never fertilize a plant under stress. Keep the soil evenly moist, and maybe it would be better to avoid overhead watering, as with a sprinkler system, until you get a little better handle on the situation. If it begins to recover and shows signs of budding or blooming again, you might give it a little fertilizer that has a higher proportion of phosphorus (the middle number on fertilizer designations) to encourage blooming. Since this plant is a non-native to North America, it will not be in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database, so we can only give you experience from others who have grown the plant.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native flower bed with part sun
December 05, 2008 - I have recently put in three small flower beds and replaced the hard clay with decent dirt. The site is shaded in the AM but mostly sun in the PM. I would like to plant natives - what can you recommen...
view the full question and answer

Companion planting with heartleaf skullcap from Arlington TX
April 24, 2011 - What can I plant with heart-leaf skullcap when it goes dormant in the summer?
view the full question and answer

Is Cerinthe major toxic to cats in Gresham, OR
March 14, 2013 - Hi, I was wondering about whether a specific plant was poisonous or not specifically to cats.. I've done a lot of searching and can't find anything on whether or not this plant is considered toxi...
view the full question and answer

Pruning for Spring
January 21, 2007 - When should I cut back (and how far should I cut back) the following plants in order to promote growth in the spring: Salvia gregii, Salvia leucantha, Ruellia (Mexican petunia), Plumbago, Sku...
view the full question and answer

Flowers for October wedding in Rockport TX
March 26, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I live in Rockport and am getting married in October. What can I plant that will be blooming then to have fresh cut flowers for the wedding? Also, when should I plant?
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