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?

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
    
 
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

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.


Salvia greggii

Chilopsis linearis

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Newly planted magnolia in Hedron NE
September 19, 2010 - We planted a Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' in our landscape about 2 weeks ago. It is approx 7' tall. My question is should the leaves on it all be turning brown and crisp already or are doing some...
view the full question and answer

Seeding wildflowers in Dallas
June 30, 2009 - What is the best way to establish seed for wildflowers in Dallas, TX? The area does get some irrigation from rotors. Would hydromulch be the most effective option?
view the full question and answer

Native shrubs or ground cover for north-facing landscape in Ft. Worth
March 23, 2010 - Need native plant ideas for a landscaping bed against the house facing north. Already has 1 Beautyberry but two others died of root rot last year due to incredibly high water table in our area. Old ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering vine for trellis behind fountain in Anaheim Hills CA
June 05, 2010 - We are looking for a flowering vine to plant on a trellis surrounding a water fountain. The fountain splashes leaving the soil constantly wet. We have tried numerous vines, but they all die due to t...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in Santaquin UT
August 11, 2009 - I have a hill in my backyard; it is about 40 ft tall and about 80 ft wide. It is probably a 1.5 to 1 slope ratio. I am going to be landscaping my back yard and have top soil put on the hill as well. S...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center