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

Saturday - November 15, 2008

From: Spicewood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Propagation, Seeds and Seeding
Title: Information about growing mountain laurels (Sophora secundiflora)
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Sean Watson

QUESTION:

I live just outside of Austin on 10 acres. I have several very large mountain laurels on my property that I planted from containers. Mine flower profusely every year. I feed them bi-weekly and water them as needed. Since I have great flowers every year, I have great seed-pods every year (about 5000 seeds/year from these three)and I have planted the seeds around my property and have many small ones growing now. I am thinking of mass growing them in containers to sell to those who love them as much as I do. Can you give me your input as to what I should use for the soil in the containers? What should the PH level be of the soil? And what other advice would you give for this kind of endeavor? I have always fed mine with Miracle Grow and the flower results and growth of them has been incredible. They were about 2' tall and 1' wide when I planted them 6 years ago and they are now about 10' tall and 6' - 8' wide. They are planted in raised beds and I only water them in extended dry times other than the feeding that I do with the Miracle Grow which I do about every two weeks during spring and summer. They get full sun for about 6 hours a day and partial sun the rest of the day however, the ones that I grow in containers would get full sun as the area that I would have them has few trees to shade them.

ANSWER:

First of all, it sounds like you are doing a great job with your Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) plants.  We do have several suggestions, however.  

1.  Instead of starting your plants in a raised bed, we suggest that you start your seeds in pots.  The seedlings do not usually transplant very well from beds because of the long tap root that develops.

2.  We usually nick the seeds on a stone grinder (you can nick them with a sharp knife) before they are sown so that they germinate quickly and at a much higher rate.

3.  The potting soil we use is a locally produced container mix (basically a good compost with pecan hulls to give it texture and keep the soil from compacting).

4.  Compost contains a good organic fertilizer start (natural nitrogen) and incorporates fertilizers better since the soil is living. However, you will get better results if you use a natural organic plant food rather than an inorganic fertilizer.  Inorganic fertilizers can cause salt burn after prolonged use (salts build up in the soil).  The salt can kill  beneficial organisms in the soil as well as burn plants. Your fertilizing regime seems good, but you may be able to fertilize less if you use compost. You will surely get better results if you use a well draining compost either way. If you get a heavier compost, you can cut it with sand at about 25% sand to increase drainage.

For further information about growing mountain laurels we suggest you read about them in Jill Noke's How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest—for sale at most book stores and probably available at your local library.  She recommends growing the seedlings in 30% shade for the first spring and summer.  She says that seedlings grown in full sun tend to expend most of their energy on root growth and form low compact shoot growth to protect themselves from burning.  In the wild seedlings are found growing underneath parent trees or in the shade of other trees. 

Best of luck with your project!


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Growth of yucca from seed pods from Saginaw MI
October 05, 2013 - How do you grow a yucca plant from the pods? Do I need to dry out the pods first?
view the full question and answer

Getting milkweed seeds into seed mixes from Milwaukee WI
February 07, 2014 - My husband and I are concerned about the Monarch butterfly migration and have started an effort to get milkweed planted along some bike trails here in Wisconsin. This made me think of Ladybird Johnso...
view the full question and answer

Flowering ofPluchea odorata in Houston, TX
August 13, 2014 - I sprouted Pluchea odorata seeds this spring, but the plants seem too small to bloom this year. Although your website characterizes this plant as an annual, do you think it will survive the Houston wi...
view the full question and answer

How do you determine male persimmon seedlings from the females?
May 11, 2013 - I have got new persimmon seedlings about 3 inches tall this spring, and am wondering if there is any way to tell male from female at this young stage? I just don't want to plant 20 or 40 seedlings an...
view the full question and answer

Planted bluebonnets won't prosper in Bluff Dale, TX.
April 24, 2013 - I have planted bluebonnet seed several years (this last year we planted inoculated seed) always the same results -germination, growth to 4-6 leaf stage, then very pale stunted growth, bronzing. soil t...
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