En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - November 21, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native plumbago in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Plumbago problem. Live in San Antonio. Planted about 7 of these last spring, all from same store and at the same time. They are HUGE, blooming, thriving, except for the two on the end. They're in a different bed, but all get the same water/sun, etc. Not sure if maybe an animal is peeing there, if that would cause this? I can send a picture, please let me know. I love these plants and just assumed we may have to uproot those two on the end and plant new ones in the spring.


There is a plumbago,  Plumbago scandens (doctorbush), native to Texas; however, according to this USDA Plant Profile, it only appears in the southern tip of Texas and an area west of the Big Bend. It is a very pretty plant, but not all that showy, so we're thinking what you probably have is  Plumbago auriculata, native to South Africa (Floridata). 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. 

Although this plant is out of our area of expertise, we can tell you that plumbago can suffer from lack of manganese. Since the plants that are not doing well are in a different bed, you might investigate that possibility. If an animal is causing the problem, it will likely return to the same place over and over and it would be better to remove those plants, and leave that area unplanted over the winter so possibly the offender will go somewhere else. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Plumbago scandens

Plumbago scandens

Plumbago scandens




More Non-Natives Questions

Recovery of damaged fuchsia plant in hanging basket
July 23, 2007 - I had a beautiful fuchsia plant hanging on my porch. The hanger gave way and the plant fell straight down into another flower bed. The fuchsia seemed ok. I put it back in the pot put up new strong ...
view the full question and answer

Trailing snapdragon hanging basket has flowers that are turning brown.
June 09, 2009 - Trailing snapdragon hanging basket in yellow, flowers are turning brown all over the plant. Why? I water every day as told & fertilized once in 3 weeks. It was so beautiful.
view the full question and answer

Information about non-native Feijoa sellowiana (pineapple guave)
April 01, 2010 - Does a pineapple guava thrive in Austin, zip 78735? What height does it grow and what watering is needed?
view the full question and answer

Pruning of frost-damaged non-native Sago Palms in Marble Falls TX
April 18, 2010 - I have several large Sago Palms that have partial frost damage, they are part green and part brown fronds. Should I remove the brown leaves? the center of the leaf is green.
view the full question and answer

Seeking information on Crateeva asiatica, non-native herbal medicine
September 29, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I had a look at your website in hope of finding information about the plant Crateeva asiatica. Could you kindly help me to locate the information for the same?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center