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

Friday - April 16, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Damaged newly planted Gaura in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello yet again! This past Friday we attended the plant sale where we got lots of goodies to start a new bed. The plants were all planted on Sunday. All of them are doing fine, even beginning to produce new blooms in some cases, except for the Gaura Lindenheimeri. It was completely fine last night, then this morning (about 12 hours after I had last looked at it) I went out to find it darkened and shriveled and no longer upright. It was a gallon plant. I, of course, immediately triple checked the sun and soil needs and nothing seems amiss there. But, what on earth would cause it to have such a radical change in health so quickly?! I poked around for possible nearby snails or other critters, but did not find any. Do you know of any common, or even uncommon, causes of a sudden change in a newly planted plant?

ANSWER:

Well, everybody here is baffled, too. Our Nursery and Gardens staff and volunteers are very particular about the conditions of the plants that are put on sale in our semi-annual Plant Sale. Poison pellets are never inserted into the soil just to give customers a surprise. We have two theories. The first is that we know the Gaura does not like being transplanted. It has a long carrot-like taproot which permits the plant to survive drought. It's possible that root got broken in the process. Another possibility, although kind of remote, is that a too-generous dose of fertilizer into the hole when the plant was put in the ground might have shocked the roots a bit. Ordinarily, we recommend no fertilizer at all for native plants in their own territory, as they are already acclimated to the soils there. 

And speaking of remote possibilities, from the first we thought of animal damage; that is, a  dog or cat making a pit stop there.

From Conditions Comments in Native Plant Database:

"Open vase-shaped plant, branches arching in many directions. Leaf color is dark green in summer, and red, gold or purple in the fall. The flower, white fading pink, has only a few flowers open at a time with new ones opening as stalks grow throughout most. Flowers open in early morning. Tolerant of high heat. Flower fragrance has sometimes been compared to cat urine." 

We have absolutely no proof that is what happened, but it's a possibility that some other cat or dog came around to deposit their own scent, saying, in effect: "So, there!"

Having tap-danced all around your problem, we suggest you treat this as transplant shock. Trim off the  damaged upper area, as much as 1/4 to 1/3 of the upper parts of the plant. No more fertilizer and hopefully it will come back and do fine. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Gaura lindheimeri

Gaura lindheimeri

Gaura lindheimeri

Gaura lindheimeri

 

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native plants for hanging baskets in Abilene
June 10, 2008 - I live in the DRY West Texas heat in Abilene. I'd like to put some hanging plants along my back fence. Preferably something that would attract butterflies. We have a pool in our back yard and almost ...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification from Pearland TX
August 10, 2013 - I am looking for a native plant; was told it was called Hummingbird Weed. Came from Coryell County. I let mine freeze and cannot find more. It has long spikes with small red trumpet-shaped blooms on ...
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant wetland plants in NY
April 19, 2010 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants - I'm working on a fresh water, shoreline wetland creation project in New York State. I've created two zones of native wetland plantings, an emergent shallow marsh zone ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plant to cover parents' graves in Louisiana
June 30, 2013 - We want to plant ground cover on our parents graves in Plain Dealing Cemetery in north Bossier Parish LA. Soil is red clay/dirt. Want native plant, slow growing, short not tall plant, that might sta...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizer amounts for native perennials in Belton, TX
March 18, 2009 - I am a novice gardener and need advice on how to fertilize my native perennials. I would like to use organic fertilizer and need advice on exactly what to use. I have a compost pile but it does not ...
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