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
2 ratings

Wednesday - September 30, 2009

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Blackfoot daisy turning brown in Round Rock, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

A few days ago, our blackfoot daisy was doing wonderfully. Then we got heavy rains and suddenly the plant is sere and brown. Did the too wet weather do this, and will it come back next year?

ANSWER:

When a native plant like Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot) suddenly begins to suffer, you have to ask yourself what in the environment has changed to cause this problem? Here are the Growing Conditions for blackfoot daisy, which is definitely native to Central Texas:

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Dry, rocky, calcareous soils. Rocky, Gravelly Sandy, Limestone-based, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: Blackfoot daisy is a sturdy, mounding plant, that will flourish in rock gardens. It is heat and drought tolerant. Good drainage is essential to its success. In late winter, older plants can be cut back halfway to keep them compact. Rich soil and abundant water will likely produce many more flowers in the short-term, but may consequently shorten the lifespan.

The things that jump out at us are the low water requirement, the need for good drainage and the preference for acidic soil. The soil in Central Texas is generally pretty alkaline, but your plants have been okay with that up to now. Goodness knows, we have had low rainwater for the last two years, and apparently the plant was good with that. It looks as though the drainage is the key. As long as we had no rain and you were watering responsibly, the blackfoot daisy was okay. Now, there is rainwater, which you can't turn on and off, and  water is likely standing on the roots of the plant. The best solution for that is to amend the soil with compost or some other organic material, which will improve the drainage. You will notice from the preferred soils for this plant that they are all good at draining. Possibly the soil in your garden is clay, or clay-based, which doesn't drain well at all. If you're up for it, you could even try taking some plants out, and quickly work compost into the soil, returning the plants before the roots have time to dry out. We can't say if this will save your present plants. We would recommend trimming off the upper 1/4 to 1/3 of the affected plants (after you return them to the soil, if you decide to go that route), treating them as though they had transplant shock. As we go toward winter, perhaps getting more rain, the plants will all go into semi-dormancy or even die back to the roots, to re-emerge in the spring. Even if you lose those daisies now, you will have improved the long-range vitality of your garden. And, the level of acidity should be changed by the addition of organic materials.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Melampodium leucanthum

Melampodium leucanthum

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Disease-resistant squash varieties for Central Texas
February 03, 2008 - Can you give me names of some disease-resistant summer squash varieties available in Central Texas?
view the full question and answer

Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses from Austin
May 13, 2014 - Is Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses? Will horses eat it? I have a client who has a mini-horse who visits her property on occasion, and I want to ensure that what I plant is both safe for the hors...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native artichoke from El Paso, TX
May 25, 2014 - I have a five year old artichoke plant in the ground that gets sun and some shade, has plenty of fertilizer and compost. Gets enough water. It has been beautiful in years past and last year had 10 a...
view the full question and answer

Turk's Cap not returning from Plano TX
April 02, 2014 - My Turk's Cap has shown no signs of coming back this year as of March 31. I pruned to about 12 inches because it was so bushy last year and it was not mulched thru our harsh winter (10 degree low and...
view the full question and answer

Meadow garden for Colorado Springs CO
June 03, 2012 - We recently purchased a restored home on a mesa just above the downtown area of Colorado Springs on the front range. The previous owners seeded the front lawn with blue gramma and told me that all I ...
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