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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.

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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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Thursday - April 15, 2010

From: Hurst, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Blueberries and non-native squash in Fort Worth
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Blueberries in North Central Texas-Fort Worth In sun or shade? Got only male blossoms on my squash last year why?

ANSWER:

Excerpted from a previous recent (very recent, like today) answer:

"Most of the commercially produced blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) known to American consumers are grown on plants native to the eastern 1/3 of the US.  Parts of the Rocky Mountain states, the Pacific Northwest and most of Canada are also known for their own beloved indigenous species of blueberries and the closely-related huckleberries.

No blueberrry species are native to nor suitable for Austin.  Unfortunately, the soil and climate in Austin, Texas is not conducive to growing blueberries.  One characteristic that every species of North American Vacciniums has in common, whether it's blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries, lingonberries or bilberries is its requirement for acid soil.  The soil in Austin, being very, very alkaline is nearly impossible for blueberries.  It is possible to amend the soil to make it more acid, but keeping the soil from reverting to its natural, basic state requires ongoing effort that you will probably find to be too much trouble."

This answer referred to Austin, but we can assure you that it holds true for Fort Worth, as well. We can only assume that one of the  big box home improvement stores have put blueberries on sale in their nursery, for there to be this much interest in something that will not grow in Central Texas.

As to the squash, like most vegetables and fruits you would buy at the grocery store, squash is non-native to North America, and has been so hybridized over time that just tracing its parent would be impossible. Since are are native plant people, we don't know male from female flowers on a squash; we do know that they are pollinated by bees, which are in very short supply all over the world right now, for various reasons.  We found this website from The Gardener's Network How to Grow Squash that might help. 

 

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