Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Monday - February 08, 2010

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Soils, Herbs/Forbs, Trees
Title: Soil for native Chilopsis linearis and Salvia greggii
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

I want to plant a desert willow and a salvia greggii in my small lot. The developer used sandy loam to fill in the small garden in the front. I am 73 and a bit impaired. Do I really need to remove all that loam and replace it, or can I just put good soil on top of it and plant? I assume that my sacks of Garden Soil from Miracle Grow are not going to get it. What should I use?

ANSWER:

Salvia greggii (autumn sage) and Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) are great choices for a Central Texas landscape. Both of these species need well-drained soil and sunny conditions. Since developers use the term "sandy loam" without much reference to the soil's genuine qualities, we can't accurately assess your soil from a verbal description. The native plants you've chosen are adapted to thrive in Central Texas soils, but if you want to make an informed judgement, here are a couple of suggestions for evaluating your sandy loam. To determine your soil's drainage properties take a look at this article on The Georgia Gardener website for testing water percolation. Soil testing is available through Texas Agrilife - the Texas A&M Extension Service. Texas soils tend to be low in organic matter, and working in some compost may be all you want to do. If you decide that you need to add topsoil, some of it should be worked into the existing soil to help the roots transition from one layer to the next. We don't advise on brands of soil to use, but one of the reasons to plant natives is that they DON'T need all the fertilizer that lots of bagged garden soils feature.

Here is a link to the Wildflower Center's article on gardening with native plants that may have some other helpful information. When putting your plants in, make sure they aren't planted deeper than the soil level, and when mulching, leave a few inches of open space around the base of the plant.

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Safe grazing for donkeys and goats from Osteen FL
June 30, 2012 - I am having a very difficult time trying to find shrubs, hedges, plants, flowers, or trees etc. that are safe for donkeys and goats. We live in Zone 9 and have a small farm. I've had to pull every ...
view the full question and answer

Native perennials for Ft. Worth TX
March 17, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I have two large planters around the back side of my saltwater pool where there is no decking. (sloped landscape) 8'long x 3' wide. I need low growing perennial plants that will ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow under a black walnut tree in PA
July 03, 2011 - I want to plant some shrubs and flowers in an area with southern exposure that is dry, sunny, and within the drip line of, and partially under a large black walnut tree. I had been told that native pl...
view the full question and answer

Neighborhood association wanting wildflowers mowed from Grand Prairie TX
July 14, 2013 - For at least 15 years, I have been fostering growth of wildflowers in 60% of my 90x400' yard which include 150' utility trunkline easement in which I can plant no trees. This year, we had volunteer ...
view the full question and answer

Deadheading a petunia and why
July 13, 2008 - Can you please tell me the correct way to de-head a petunia and why?
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.