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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.

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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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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

 

 


 

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