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 Compost and Mulch Questions

Non-native, invasive bermudagrass from Memphis TN
August 17, 2012 - I live in central Memphis and have well-drained clay soil. I have converted much of the front yard from turf grass to beds of native plants, which survive our hot humid without supplemental watering e...
view the full question and answer

Surface tree roots hurting grass in Houston
March 21, 2013 - We have 2 mature Arizona Ash trees in our yard (30-40'). One of them is in a sunnier location and has developed an extensive network of surface roots (up to 1 to 1 1/2" Dia.) between the tree and th...
view the full question and answer

Sudden death of Texas Mountain Laurel
April 14, 2008 - Last year, my 15-year-old Mountain Laurel died very suddenly. The leaves began to curl up and turn brown, and it was dead within about 15 days. What happened?
view the full question and answer

Watering needs for a new landscape
October 11, 2008 - How much and how frequently are you supposed to water after implementing a new landscape? For example, perennials and succulents that are drought tolerant.
view the full question and answer

Privacy plantings in Texas
August 16, 2008 - Our home currently has a 4' chain fence. We are a family of 7 with younger aged children and are looking for more privacy. In lieu of a replacement fence, what would you recommend planting to provi...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center