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?


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
2 ratings

Thursday - March 26, 2009

From: Abilene, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Propagation, Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Stubs of Texas Star Hibiscus in Abilene, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We have cut back our outdoor Texas Star Hibiscus for 4 years and now have a large number of old stubs that the new growth must navigate around. Will it kill the plant if we dig up the old stubs? At some point it would seem that they will need to be removed.


The funny thing about Hibiscus coccineus (scarlet rosemallow), also called "Texas Star Hibiscus" is that, while it is native to the Southeastern United States from Florida to Mississippi, it is not native to Texas. At some point, someone in the nursery trade decided it would sell well with the name "Texas Star" and it has done so. That has nothing to do with your question, we just think it's amusing. Anyway, yes, go ahead and remove those stubs. We're a little surprised they have persisted. We always cut ours back in the fall, leaving the stub to identify where the plant is, but it usually just sort of disappeared after the new plant came up. Our suggestion is to start by giving the stub a gentle tug, rather than digging it out. Hopefully, it will break off, or just come up with vestiges of its old roots clinging to it. Digging out the stub could damage the developing roots of the new season's plant that is beginning to emerge. If you really want to clean up the area and make a new start, this plant can be propagated by root division. Since it is a late starter and does its blooming in the late summer, now would probably be a good time to do that. In doing so, you would be able to easily separate out the dead stems and roots, clean up any litter around the planting area, and perhaps throw in a little fertilizer (not high nitrogen lawn fertilizer, as that inhibits blooms), maybe some compost and you will likely have a whole bunch of vigorous new plants. 

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus



More Compost and Mulch Questions

Distance apart to plant Arizona ash trees in El Paso, TX
July 01, 2010 - How far apart can I plant two Arizona ash trees?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas Ash and non-native Bradford Pear in Hutto TX
January 27, 2011 - We have planted two trees in our back yard. The first one(a Bradford Pear) died and the second one (a Texas ash) doesn't look like it's doing very well. Our back yard is mostly black clay about 1 f...
view the full question and answer

Splash-proof plants from Oakton VA
October 01, 2012 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants, Re: low, evergreen ground cover, Northern Virginia The bare soil around my freshly painted screen porch splashes up onto the white framing when it rains so I am looking for ...
view the full question and answer

Pros and cons of Hydrocotyl bonariensis as lawn replacement
March 22, 2008 - Want to convert lawn TO dollar weed! My Garland TX yard has become so shady over the years that I have a hard time with grass. A few years ago I noticed dollar weed in the grass which seemed to cre...
view the full question and answer

Planting a Texas Persimmon in rocky soil in Krum TX
March 27, 2009 - I have recently purchased a 10 gallon Texas Persimmon plant that I want to put as a highlight plant in my yard. According to the nursery, it has been in the pot for 2 years. I have been "blessed(or...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center