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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - November 15, 2009

From: Alamo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Information on various plants from Alamo TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Have you heard of the following plants: Butterfly Iris,Compact Nanpina, Red Dwarf Turks? I would like to know some details on the above plant: size, flowers?, drought tolerant, where to plant Thanking you in advance for whatever information you can give me.

ANSWER:

We are thinking you are asking about Butterfly Iris (Dietes grandiflora), compact Nandina (Nandina domestica 'Compacta'), and a dwarf selection of Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), also known as turkscap. In hopes we have hit on the right plants, we'll discuss them one at a time. First, we need to remind you that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, care, and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. We mention this because two of the three plants you asked about are not native to North America and therefore fall out of our range of expertise. Since they will not be in our Native Plant Database, we will try to refer you somewhere else to hopefully get the information you want.

To begin with the native turkscap, we could find no information on the "Red Dwarf" name, but frequently plant retailers will use trade names to try and make the plant sound more exciting. We are assuming that this is simply a shorter selection of the native turkscap, with a jazzy name. From our page on this plant, here are the Growing Conditions:

"Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, loamy, clay, and limestone soils. Moist, well-drained, woodland soils best.
Conditions Comments: Drought tolerant. Prefers sandy and partially shady sites. Under cultivation, Turk’s cap will adapt to and thrive in many different sites, including full sun and heavier soil, though unremitting sun will cause its leaves to become rougher, smaller, and darker."

Follow this link, Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow), to get answers to your other questions. 

Nandina domestica 'Compacta' is apparently, again, a shorter selection of the species, and can grow to 3-1/2 ft. tall. It is native to China and Japan, but more importantly, it is an extremely invasive plant and is invading forests over much of the Southeast, escaped from gardens. We would urge you not to use this plant, as it can damage the ecology in your area. See this article from texasinvasives.org Nandina domestica.

And, finally, Butterfly Iris (Dietes grandiflora), native to South Africa. It is not presently considered an invasive non-native, but could become so given the opportunity, and we therefore discourage its use. To read more about it, go to this Texas A&M Extension Service website Butterfly or African iris

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

 

 

 

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