Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 27, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Fertilizer producing leaves over flower production in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you please list which Central Texas perennials' will favor leaf growth over flower production when fertilized? I have many in the "Grown Green" booklet and need to know which flowering plants should not be fertilized. Thank you.

ANSWER:

If the "Grow Green" booklet is the one we are thinking of, it includes plants that have adapted to Central Texas but are not necessarily native to Central Texas. One of the main arguments for using native plants is that a plant that has evolved over millennia in an area will be able to get along well without any outside intervention. Plants evolved to live in Central Texas are prepared for droughts, clay soil, high wind, heat and the insects that are also native here. Native plants do not demand fertilizer in order to survive, and some, like Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) do not like to be fertilized. Native wildflower seeds, like Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), can live in the soil for years until some rain comes along. You can check in our Native Plant Database, using either the common name or the botanical name to search for the plants in your garden and indicate Texas for the state. If they don't appear in that database, they are probably non-native. Some may be native to other parts of the country, and some may be hybrids, which takes them out of our classification of "native." If you only know your plant by some trade name selected by retailers to catch the eye, you can try Googling on that name and see what you can find out about what the plant really is. Most native plants will not keel over and die if they are fertilized, but why spend the time and money as well as adding something else that can run off into our water tables?

 

More Planting Questions

Anacacho orchid not leafing out in Georgetown TX
April 18, 2013 - February 2012 I planted 2 4-ft anacacho orchids which did well. This spring, they have yet to leaf out or even bud. There is green, however, when I scratch the stems and some suckers at the bottom of ...
view the full question and answer

A good Amelanchier (Serviceberry) for Brooklyn, NY.
November 03, 2015 - I am looking to purchase an Amelanchier to plant in Brooklyn this month. Would you know which variety works best in a small garden and also is it too late to plant. Mainly, I am looking for someone wh...
view the full question and answer

Removing St. Augustine for natives in Grapevine TX
September 29, 2012 - We have St Augustine in our yard and we hate it. It guzzles water, we have to cut it often, and it's thick and hard to work with. Anyway, we want to replace it with a combination of some kind of g...
view the full question and answer

Chile pequin from Spring Plant Sale in Austin
June 08, 2011 - Re: chile pequin purchased at your Spring 2011 sale: it grows, seems to thrive, but sets no flowers and so bears no fruit. It's in terracotta in Ladybug potting soil, on a shady apartment patio. How ...
view the full question and answer

Replanting a Desert Willow
February 07, 2016 - My desert willow was damaged badly in a winter storm and had to be taken down. Do I need to remove the old root system below grade when I plant a new desert willow?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.