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 Propagation Questions

Pineapple plant care
November 05, 2005 - Hello, I have a new pineapple plant that is still very small 1-2 inches around the fruit at most. The fruit has recently turned a deep yellow as if it were ripe. I am wondering if it can be ripe at su...
view the full question and answer

Planting time for California poppies in Colorado
May 25, 2008 - I live in Colorado and planted California Poppies in my front yard at the end of April. I read that I probably should have planted them in the fall. There have sprouted a little but they don't seem t...
view the full question and answer

Killing a century plant from Burton TX
August 08, 2013 - How do you kill the century plant, they are taking over?
view the full question and answer

Propagating mimosa from seed
October 09, 2008 - I have a seed pod from a Mimosa tree. What is the best way to start this beautiful tree from seed. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

No female, hence, no squash.
September 07, 2008 - This is not a wild flower but. My grandchildren left a squash outside in a corner of a flower bed. This spring it grew. There are only male flowers, many of them, but no female, hence, no squash. Why...
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