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

Saturday - September 04, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Watering, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Blackfoot daisy declining in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My Blackfoot Daisies have grown large, bushy, have bloomed well over the past two summers. Now parts of the plants are drying up, dying. Will pruning out the dead parts help the plants to survive, or should I just pull them out and start over with new plants?

ANSWER:

We always find the Growing Conditions on the page on each particular plant in our Native Plant Database pretty instructive. Here are the growing conditions for Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot):

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Dry, rocky, calcareous soils. Rocky, Gravelly Sandy, Limestone-based, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: Blackfoot daisy is a sturdy, mounding plant, that will flourish in rock gardens. It is heat and drought tolerant. Good drainage is essential to its success. In late winter, older plants can be cut back halfway to keep them compact. Rich soil and abundant water will likely produce many more flowers in the short-term, but may consequently shorten the lifespan.

We have emphasized the last line, because many native plants really need no fertilizer and little additional water. You might be overloving your plant. Much as we sound like a broken record, this has been a very difficult year for native plants in Central Texas. We had unusual spells of very cold weather (for this part of the country), followed by a Spring in which the rains came back, and a Summer in which they went away again. With the nice rains in the Spring, many native plants responded over-enthusiastically, and put on extra growth, and then got the shock of heat and drought later in the Summer.

We're going to suggest a little additional water on your plants, but no fertilizer. You should never fertilize a plant under stress, which yours apparently are. Then, in late Fall, cut the plants back to just a few inches above the ground. If you want to clip out the dead parts now, just for appearance sake, that certainly won't hurt them. 

The Blackfoot Daisy ordinarily blooms from March to November, so it would be worthwhile to try to keep the ones you have blooming and healthy. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Melampodium leucanthum

Melampodium leucanthum

Melampodium leucanthum

Melampodium leucanthum

 

 

 

 

More Watering Questions

Environmentally friendly and drought resistant alternatives to St. Augustine grass
September 28, 2006 - As a member of the planning committee of our property owners association in Wimberley TX, we are researching ways to make our landscape environmentally friendly and drought resistant. We have 60,000 ...
view the full question and answer

Greywater effect on plants from Dallas
June 09, 2013 - How does gray water affect plants?
view the full question and answer

Is sulfurous well water affecting leaves on trees in Belton TX
November 07, 2011 - We installed an irrigation system for our buffalo grass lawn last spring. The grass is fine but the leaves on the trees are burned where the water hits them. I suspect that the well we are using fo...
view the full question and answer

Dying branches on Texas Mountain Laurel from Kempner TX
September 14, 2012 - The branches on my Texas Mountain Laurel are very dry and brittle. The leaves are also starting to die. The tree has been in my yard for six years and prior to that it sat wrapped in burlap for ov...
view the full question and answer

PVC pipes for irrigation in ground in Austin
August 19, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants,What are your thoughts on installing PVC pipes into the ground around trees and shrubby trees? A classmate's grandmother had a pipe pushed or pounded into the ground near her speci...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center