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

Thursday - July 30, 2009

From: St. Louis, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pollinators, Compost and Mulch, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Failure of tall garden phlox buds to open in St. Louis MO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Why won't the buds of my tall garden phlox open? Plants are apparently healthy, no powdery mildew or visible insects, foliage looks great and buds are profuse but they don't open. I have two clumps in different areas, both get full sun. I gave one clump a high phosphorous bloom booster fertilizer but it didn't help. The bees love the closed buds all the same. This happened last year too.

ANSWER:

Tall Garden Phlox are hybrids of Phlox paniculata (fall phlox), which is native to Missouri.  However, hybridized plants can present a problem, as you don't know exactly what their parentage is, and what attributes of the original plant were edited out and what others were added in to gain more height, different colors, longer blooming time, etc. We found an excellent website, Tall Garden Phlox for Minnesota Gardens, from University of Minnosota  Extension. We realize you are not in Minnesota, but the principles should apply. Please read the whole article but some of the things you should probably give attention to are:

The amount of sun (you already said you had full sun).

The soil being well-drained yet retaining adequate moisture; this may require incorporating a generous amount of organic material (compost, etc.) before planting. Plant grows best when it's moist.

Good air circulation to prevent mold, and watering soil, not sprinkling from above, for same reason.

Light application of balanced fertilizer as new growth emerges each Spring, again just before plants begin to flower. Not too much nitrogen, and don't use lawn fertilizer, which is high nitrogen. The high nitrogen encourages leaf development (as in grass) at the expense of flowering. 

 

 

 

More Pollinators Questions

Butterfly egg kit from Spring Hill FL
October 27, 2011 - Could you please tell me all native plant(s) I can buy for my Sons Painted Lady Butterfly kit (eggs are going to hatch soon)and I don't know what to buy for the baby caterpillars to eat. I contacted ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on pollinators
February 20, 2005 - I am researching threatened pollinators in Texas and elsewhere - bees, butterflies, hummingbirds. I would like your input on the subject.
view the full question and answer

Landscaping for slope in Kansas City
October 08, 2008 - We have a down sloping back yard and patio on the lower area. We need some water absorbing plants near the foundation and some in the front of the house, where water isn't a problem. We are allergic ...
view the full question and answer

Pollinator for Juniperus virginiana "Grey Owl"
April 22, 2007 - I would like to buy Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl' as a source of berries for birds. 'Grey Owl' is a female clone, so it obviously must need a male pollinator. What J. virginiana male pollinato...
view the full question and answer

Pollinator for Hymenocallis palmeri
August 06, 2007 - Okay, Ms. Smarty Plants, let's see if I can stump you. I feel blessed to have seen an alligator lily (Hymenocallis palmeri) in the Everglades, while doing photopoints with my boss. Please tell me w...
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