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?


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
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

Problems with non-native impatiens in Denton, TX
May 19, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, 4 weeks ago I planted a shady bed (2'x10') with impatiens for the third year in-a-row. Previously, the plants thrived & bloomed till November. Three weeks ago, something ...
view the full question and answer

Dying branches on non-native buddleias in Horseshoe Bend TX
September 19, 2010 - Our Black Knight buddleias are developing branches that die. The leaves just turn brown and the whole branch dies then another and finally the whole plant dies. Do you know what could be causing this...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for golf courses from Austin
October 06, 2013 - I may be working on two different golf courses and wanted to know if any native or hybrid native grasses would work for the fairways and rough areas? The rough areas are no problem as a number of ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native ixora full of weeds in Miami FL
July 29, 2011 - My Ixoras are full of weeds look like some kind of berry. Is there a way to get rid of them?
view the full question and answer

Wintering of non- native jasmine in Newton KS
September 18, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I received a gorgeous jasmine for mothers day and I planted it in my front yard in the flower area close to the house. Can I keep it there all winter or do I need to dig it up a...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center