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

Monday - March 15, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native bulbine damaged by freeze
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Our Texas bulbine were hit hard this year. The tops are dead, not sure if any roots are still alive. Should we trim them back to the dirt; if roots are still alive, will they emerge again via root system?


You have been led along by a nursery trade name for a plant that infers a plant is native to Texas when, in fact, it is not. "Texas bulbine" is actually Bulbine frutescens, Orange African Bulbine, native to (where else?) South Africa. Since at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are only conversant in plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown, this plant is out of our expertise. We can tell you that it is hardy from USDA Zones 9 to 11, while Austin in is Zone 8a. This is probably not enough of a spread to make that much difference in survival chances,  but we had such sudden, hard freezes that marginal plants were hurt. We would suggest trimming them back to about 6 inches, water but don't fertilize, and wait. If they are well-established, they could come back up from their roots. See this article from the Pima County (AZ) Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners on Bulbine frutescens for more information.

More Non-Natives Questions

Sap oozing from non-native Chinese pistache in San Antonio
September 07, 2011 - I live in San Antonio, and my chinese pistache is exuding copious amounts of a sticky sap from old trim sites and from the trunk itself. The tree is about 12 years old and has been healthy up until no...
view the full question and answer

Distinguishing native Celastrus scandens from non-native C. Orbiculatus from Lexington MA
June 08, 2014 - Dear Mr. Plants, I maintain a wildflower garden with the Lexington Field and Garden Club in Lexington, Massachusetts. Every year, I pull up sprouts of Celastris orbiulatis. I want to plan...
view the full question and answer

Dying non-native cleyera in Lafayette, LA
August 01, 2009 - Thanks for all the information. One of my six year old cleyera shrubs turned completly brown within two weeks, it is dead. Another is beginning to do the same......do you think it was the recent dro...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of replacing Bermudagrass with native grasses and wildflowers
November 24, 2008 - Are there any native grasses and wildflowers that can compete with bermuda grass to make a nativ-y wild area without removing the bermuda?
view the full question and answer

Strange produce from non-native lemon seed in Houma LA
April 03, 2010 - I grow a lemon tree from a seed. I grafted it from the same tree a year or so later. It is 15 years old and it only produce one year. The question is, the year it produce, the fruit was a pink grap...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center