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

Watering a Chinquapin Oak in Austin, TX
June 22, 2014 - I have a question about watering. I planted a Chinquapin Oak about 7 months ago and it's about 8 feet tall and doing well. I water it weekly on a slow drip for about an hour. I expect that my job is ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Texas Mountain Laurel in Austin
May 02, 2010 - I have an adult (over 25 years?, 20 feet tall?) Mountain Laurel next to my house in Austin. The winter of 2009/10 it lost most of its leaves. It did bloom and leaf out this Spring--not vigorous espec...
view the full question and answer

Dormancy in Pin Oaks without water in Del Rio, TX
August 02, 2011 - Can Pin Oak trees go dormant without enough water? If so how long can they live that way? Can they be brought back to producing leaves? If yes, then what do I need to do besides giving them water. I d...
view the full question and answer

Care of Live Oaks
July 11, 2012 - We have Two Young Live Oaks in the front of Our home. We had them treated for insects, ect. Now what can we do to make them Full Green and Happy Happy Happy again.Thank You
view the full question and answer

Repotting of lemon cypress for drainage
October 26, 2008 - Hi, I bought a lemon cypress tree in a nice tin, It is in Plastic and the bottom has about 1.5" of water with no drainage in the plastic or tin. It will be kept inside. Does the plant need to be in...
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