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 Compost and Mulch Questions

Eliminating suckers from roots of Moraine locust in Hilliard, OH
July 07, 2009 - We removed a large Moraine Locust tree and also the stump. Now little trees from the roots are coming up. How do we get rid of these so something else can be planted?
view the full question and answer

Native plants for clay soil in Lathrop MO
March 21, 2011 - My family just moved to the north Kansas City, MO area and would like to know what native species, both perennial and tree, will do best in the clay soil. It has already proven problematic as we have ...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow on the Connecticut coast
June 08, 2010 - I live on the coast in Connecticut and have a hard time growing plants here. I live about 1/2 mile from the beach and find that my soil is very rocky. The only plants that have done well in my yard ...
view the full question and answer

Soil for native Chilopsis linearis and Salvia greggii
February 08, 2010 - I want to plant a desert willow and a salvia greggii in my small lot. The developer used sandy loam to fill in the small garden in the front. I am 73 and a bit impaired. Do I really need to remove ...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to esperanza in pot from Brady TX
December 10, 2009 - My esperanza, currently in a container, has suffered some freeze damage. I have prepared a planting spot for it and am not sure whether to plant now, trim it back if I do plant it, etc. I would appr...
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