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
1 rating

Wednesday - March 18, 2009

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Fertilizer amounts for native perennials in Belton, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am a novice gardener and need advice on how to fertilize my native perennials. I would like to use organic fertilizer and need advice on exactly what to use. I have a compost pile but it does not supply the quantity of compost that I need. Thank you.

ANSWER:

One of the advantages in planting natives is that they ordinarily don't really need fertilizer, because they are already adapted to the climate, rainfall and soil where they are growing. Compost is a wonderful additive to the soil because it assists in drainage, but also helps to make vital micronutrients in the soil available to the roots. Since in Texas we mostly have alkaline soils, this is essential, as it is difficult for roots to access what they need in alkaline soil. If it would make you feel any better, you could certainly pick up an organic fertilizer at the nursery, only avoiding high nitrogen lawn fertilizers for blooming plants. Nitrogen promotes heavy leaf development, and is ideal for lawns, but if a plant puts too much energy into leaf production, the bloom quality and quantity can suffer. To further add organic material to your soil, try mulching with a shredded hardwood bark mulch. Not only will this hold moisture in your soil and protect the roots of your plants from heat and cold, but as it decomposes it will continue to improve the texture of the soil.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Removing grass under oak trees in Pflugerville TX
August 30, 2009 - I would like to use the newspaper-and-mulch method to smother grass under the canopy of live oaks, a bur oak, and a lacey oak so that I can plant natives that will thrive there. However, I'm concern...
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

Failure to bloom of lantanas in San Antonio
July 22, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We have lantanas in our front yard. This summer the leaves have turned white and they die to a brown color all the while the leaves are "crispy". At the beginning of the season...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for sun in Phenix City, AL
April 04, 2011 - I live in Phenix City, AL and am new to planting. I have a 60 x 15 feet slope that is just dirt. I am going to till it next week and want to plant some various ground cover plants (that will grow to c...
view the full question and answer

Oyster Shell source in Austin
September 18, 2015 - Hi, I was not sure who to reach out to, but I work for Quality Seafood here in Austin, and we have several gardeners who take our old oyster shells and grind them up or put them in their gardens for ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center