En Español

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?


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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
2 ratings

Sunday - September 21, 2008

From: Sattler, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Starting desert willow from seeds
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Is it better to sow or start desert willow seeds in pots? If sowing is effective, is fall or spring the best time to sow in the Canyon Lake area of Central Texas?


According to Jill Nokes in How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest, although you can store seeds over the winter in the refrigerator to be planted in the spring, the seeds lose viability quickly so it is best to plant them indoors shortly after collecting them.  Here is what she says about planting the seeds:

"Soaking the seeds in water for a few hours prior to sowing may improve germination...Scatter the seed thinly in the flat or in individual containers, but do not bury.  Seeds need light to germinate...Seeds usually germinate within 1-3 weeks, and viability averages 40%."

She says that seedlings 4 inches long can be transplanted to one-gallon containers into a well-drained soil mix and grown in strong sunlight.  Apply small amounts of fertilizer regularly, but don't apply heavy fertilizer.  The plants can be transferred to the ground in the spring.

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis



More Propagation Questions

Propagation of Tournefortia volubilis
December 07, 2012 - I am a State Park Host at Estero Llano Grande SP in Weslaco, TX and am looking for information on the Tournefortia volubilis, Googly-eyed vine. I would like to know if there is a best method for propa...
view the full question and answer

Edibility of non-native garlic sprouts from Brancburg, NJ
March 12, 2013 - I have regular garlic in my refrigerator. It had sprouts growing out of it so I put it in a cup of water. Now that the stems are large enough to put in food, my question is.. Is that part of the garl...
view the full question and answer

Squirrels eating seed pods of Rock Rose in Austin
June 24, 2011 - Squirrel(s) have been ripping the branches off my rock rose bushes in order to eat the seed pods. Previously we had problems with squirrel(s) gnawing on our garden ornaments. I sprayed the ornaments ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis)
October 08, 2008 - I have seeds from a madrone tree and would like to know if you have had success propagating a madrone and if so, could you give me some tips, because I hear it can be tricky.
view the full question and answer

Propagation of redbuds from shoots in St. Louis MO
July 17, 2009 - I have a beautiful, healthy old redbud tree that I love. Every year, I find baby redbud trees rooted all over my yard, Since they are deep, I can't seem to dig them out so I simply cut them down to...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center