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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.

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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.

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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!

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Saturday - September 18, 2010

From: Marble Falls, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Planting time for late October bloom of Cowpen Daisy from Marble Falls, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How fast does Cowpen Daisy grow from seed to flower? Do we still have time to plant seed and get flowers by the end of October in order to attract late migrating Monarch Butterflies through the Austin, TX area? How should we successfully get rid of the "carpet" of coastal bermudagrass which is the site where we want to plant the Cowpen Daisy? How can we keep the coastal bermudagrass out of this garden plot?

ANSWER:

In succession, the answers to your questions are "not that fast," "no," and "are you kidding?" We will tell you what we know about Verbesina encelioides (Golden crownbeard). That way, maybe you'll be prepared for the Monarch butterflies next October.

When you follow the above link to our Native Plant Database page on the plant, you'll notice that its propagation instructions are:

Propagation Material: Seeds
Seed Collection: Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds.

The plant blooms from April to October, but if you are supposed to plant the seeds after they have dried on the plant, that means they should be planted in November. They will lie in the ground over the winter, and early next Spring will start putting out rosettes, and then begin to bloom around April. There is no Express Setting on seeds for getting them up and blooming in less than 2 weeks. This plant needs full sun, low soil moisture and sand or limestone soils. It grows best in disturbed soils, like where cows have been tromping around, thus the name "cowpen daisy."

If you are interested in attracting butterflies, see our page on Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed); you will note, at the bottom of that page, information from BAMONA on what butterflies this benefits. This sort of information appears on many of the plant pages in our Native Plant Database. For a list of the plants in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center butterfly garden, go to the Ann and O.J. Weber Butterfly Garden. These are all Central Texas plants that would do well in Marble Falls.

The subject of getting rid of invasive, non-native bermudagrass is a whole other subject. We would like to have the answer as much as you; it has become one of the most invasive weeds in the South, even though people are still deliberately planting it. It spreads both by stolons above the ground and rhizomes beneath the ground, and is spread by windborn seed, as well. We will refer you to some websites with suggestions for getting the bermudagrass out of a space; keeping it out is a constant struggle for the above reasons of rhizomes, stolons and seed. But you have to start somewhere. If you presently have plants that are being engulfed by the bermudagrass, pull it, don't spray it. In the first place, with those underground rhizomes storing food, spraying an herbicide on it probably won't do much good. It will, however, harm all the plants around it that you are trying to keep. When you pull it, you need to get as much of the rhizome out as you can, it can regenerate itself from tiny pieces of the rhizome. Even if you can't get all the rhizomes out, destroying the above-ground stolons, which, like all leaves, produce the food for the plant, the rhizomes will eventually starve to death.

University of California Integrated Pest Management Bermudagrass

Sunset.com How to lose your Bermuda grass

Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer - this also has more links to websites that can help

Pictures of Cowpen Daisy from our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Verbesina encelioides

 

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