Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Possible damage by invasive, non-native earthworms in compost
January 03, 2007 - I received a worm bin (vermicomposter) for Christmas. The instructions that came with the bin say to use the red wiggler worm (Eisenia foetida) and that it is okay if some of the worms go into your g...
view the full question and answer

The Pros and Cons of Using Stone Mulch for Plants and Wildfire Safety
December 04, 2013 - I am trying to grow native plants that are wildfire-resistant. I want to avoid the use of flammable mulch -- especially in beds next to the house. I'm considering river rock or crushed stone, but one...
view the full question and answer

Revegetation of school site with meadow plants from Austin
December 23, 2013 - We are revegetating a hill country school site (typical calciferous soil stripped of vegetation & minimal topsoil) with a native seed mix equal to Native American Seed "Meadow Mix". We have an abund...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas wild olive tree in Tucson
November 15, 2010 - Planted a Texas Olive tree in Tucson, Az. Some of the leaves are kind of yellow. It gets part sun and part shade and is growing. Is this due to too much water, not enough water or does it need somet...
view the full question and answer

Plants for red clay in Hattiesburg, MS
May 16, 2011 - Looking for plants and flowers to plant in red clay?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.