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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - March 13, 2009

From: Cleveland, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Texas Mountain Laurel in Florida
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty, This is more a comment than a question about Barbara Medford's (Estero, FL) question of whether you can grow Texas Mountain Laurel in Ft. Myers, FL. About 4 yrs. ago, I purchased a 2 ft. tall plant from Fredericksburg, TX and gave it to my friend in Deerfield Beach, FL which is about the same latitude as Ft. Myers but on the Atlantic side. Now it's about 15 ft. tall, appears healthy and trained like a tree but hasn't bloomed yet although it had racemes last year and more this year. It's not very far from a water sprinkler so it's probably getting more water than in its natural habitat. Hopefully the racemes will turn into flowers this spring.

ANSWER:

If there is one rule Mr. Smarty Plants has to keep always in mind, it is that there are always going to be exceptions. In this case, a plant totally adapted to dry, rocky, hot West Texas often languishes in its native habitat, but is flourishing in a very non-native habitat. All we can do is make recommendations based on the best information we have. When we discourage planting something because it is not native to that area, it's because we hate to see time and resources wasted. Also, of course, there is always the possibility of a non-native plant becoming invasive in an area where it doesn't belong. Nevertheless, a determined gardener and a survivor plant will inevitably make us look like we don't know what we're talking about. We're happy it worked out, and thank you for letting us know. As a side note, don't worry too much about the delay in blooming in the Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel); even in their native Texas and New Mexico, they are often reluctant bloomers, for no apparent reason. 


Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

Sophora secundiflora

 

 

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