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
1 rating

Friday - August 01, 2008

From: Denver, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Failure to thrive of non-native Lamium maculatum
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello: Approximately 3 to 4 years ago I planted approximately 20 Lamium Beacon Silver plants in a shaded area of my yard, with limited sun. The first year they seemed very hearty and expanded. I certainly thought they would take over the entire area as I wanted them to do. Each year they keep dying out, so that now very little is left of them. What can I do to revive them? They are on a spray system for water (well) and are in the shade of a tree. Is there a way to treat the soil or fertilize the plants so they will grow, or should I replace with something else? Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Lamium maculatum is a non-native spreading groundcover, having originated in Europe and Asia. "Beacon Silver" is a named variety of the plant, with color variagation. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we encourage the use of plants native to the area in which they are being grown, because those plants will already be acclimated to the soil, ordinary rainfall and fertilizer needs of the area. Since it is not native, we have no information on the plant in our Native Plant Database, but will try to find some answers to your question.

From this Ohio State University Education site Lamium maculatum we found this list of what Lamium maculatum expects in order to thrive:

  • partial shade to full shade
  • needs an evenly moist, well-drained, moderately rich soil in partial shade for optimum performance; not at all urban tolerant, including a disdain for poor soils, poorly drained soils, compacted soils, heat, prolonged drought, or sunny spots
  • propagated by crown division, lifting of rooted stem segments, or rooted stem cuttings
  • Mint Family, with no disease problems, but slug and snail pest problems may cosmetically affect the foliage on occasion, and exposure to excessive sun and drought will scorch the foliage and lead to dieback
  • often melts out in the heat of Summer (that is, the Spring foliage and stems die back to the original crown or new peripherally-rooted crowns), but may rejuvenate in the coolness of Autumn

We wouldn't think that in Denver high Summer heat would cause dieback, but if the stand has only the shade of a tree, perhaps it does not extend far enough to satisfy the conditions the plant needs. Also, if you did not begin with a rich soil, well-drained, it would be difficult to go back and fix that now. On the same site, under Liabilities, Lamium maculatum was characterized as being subject to crown or stem rot in moisture retentive situations (frequent irrigation, poorly drained location or heavy rain periods) and mass groundcover plantings often develop "holes" as individual plants die.

This USDA Plant Profile for Lamium maculatum does not show the plant growing at all in Colorado, or the other western states. That would indicate a possible problem with the natural soils in the area. Whether it would be worth it to completely redo the area, making amendments to increase the drainage and even perhaps alter the soil composition, would be a decision only you could make.

If you decide to abandon the Lamium, you might go to our Native Plant Suppliers area. Type in your city and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape professionals in your general area. They can probably make a much more educated suggestion on alternative groundcovers than we could.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Potted non-native mimosas in the U.S.
July 12, 2009 - We need I hope there is someone who could tell me where I could find potted mimosa plants in the US.
view the full question and answer

Pruning pink skullcap and rock daisy from Austin
February 06, 2013 - I have some pink skullcap and rock daisy and other plants in my yard that never entirely die back over the winter. Can you tell me what kind of pruning is appropriate? How far can/should I cut them ...
view the full question and answer

Help with non-native plants in California
January 14, 2014 - I am growing some beads of pearl in my front yard in front of a pepper tree that has been around for over 150 years. My question is what can I do to get my beads of pearl to grow without cutting down ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification for shrub in Florida
September 03, 2011 - On our street we have ornamental shrub planted in the median that has small waxy green leaves, produces small fragrant white flowers, and red berries with white pulp and small seeds on the inside. Th...
view the full question and answer

Sturdiness of non- native poisonous oleanders
August 16, 2011 - We've seen a dozen different types of non-native plants in our yard perish in last winter's brutal freezes and this summer's record drought..which is good..except for the Oleanders, which nature ca...
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