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

Steep slope from Charlotte NC
May 03, 2012 - I live near Charlotte, NC and I have a very steep sloped area from the edge of our front yard down to the road. It's a huge eyesore mainly because it is red clay dirt and has nothing growing on it. W...
view the full question and answer

Safe distance from foundation for Sycamore from Preston UK
August 24, 2011 - What would be the safe distance to have a sycamore tree near your house so it doesn't affect the foundations?
view the full question and answer

Replacing yellow bells with hibiscus from San Antonio
July 03, 2012 - Help! Will the roots of the yellow bells keep sprouting if I've removed the shrub? I'm replacing it with a hibiscus shrub. Will it do well in the same spot where the yellow bells were?
view the full question and answer

Moving "lily of the valley" from MD to TX. Is that OK?
January 17, 2012 - My question pertains to lily of the valley. From your database, I learned that it is a native plant but only the following states were listed: GA , KY , NC , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV. I am moving from...
view the full question and answer

Need fast growing deciduous trees for Austin, TX
February 14, 2015 - We'd like to plant several fast growing deciduous trees in a full sun yard with a hard alkaline soil in the western edge of Travis Heights in South Austin. I've noted several locations in our neighb...
view the full question and answer

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