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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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Sunday - July 27, 2008

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pests, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Cotton plant for yard in Plano
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I wish to plant a specimen cotton plant in my yard - will it grow in Plano, Texas, do you have any tips for maintaining them, and will they survive freezing temperatures?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native to North America. Most agricultural products are non-native, and virtually all of them have been hybridized until they bear little similarity to their native ancestors. Our seed sources, of course, all carry native plants, and would not stock seeds from the hybridized plants. Again, they are produced for commercial use in agriculture and, not only are they extensively treated for disease and insect resistance, but sales are probably in very large amounts. The chance of your finding someone willing to sell you a handful of cotton seeds, untreated, is likely slim to none.

That, however, is not your biggest problem. It is illegal for homeowners to grow cotton where cotton is a cash crop, because of the boll weevil eradication problem. The boll weevil eradication zone runs from Virginia down to Texas, and out to Tennessee and Missouri, especially Texas or Arkansas, where the weevil is still active.

In those areas, some states will issue you a permit if you put up pheromone traps and destroy the crop if you capture a weevil, but some won’t. Although the likelihood of a garden crop becoming a serious threat is small, there is the fear that a homeowner could accidentally create a little safe haven breeding ground that might lead to an outbreak.

And, just in case we haven't discouraged you enough, cotton is a very warm climate crop, it does not like temperatures below 60 deg. It is a tropical perennial, but in Plano, Texas would be an annual.

 

 

 

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