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

Thursday - October 14, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Shrubs
Title: Malpighia glabra for Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I am planting native Malpighia in a raised bed that was specially prepared for growing roses (soil and amendments). This bed has been left fallow for several years. Do I need to amend the soil, and if so, with what? (it is loose and sandy)

ANSWER:

From our Native Plant Database, Malpighia glabra (Acerola) which is also known as wild crapemyrtle or Barbados Cherry, the Growing Conditions are listed this way:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: Half of the winters in the Austin area are mild enough for Barbados cherry to keep its leaves. It is useful as a dense screening hedge that may be left soft, sheared, or as a specimen. Birds quickly gobble up its bright, edible fruit and adult butterflies feed on the nectar. Standard tall and dwarf spreading varieties exist."

It would appear to us that you have an ideal situation for this plant; although you might need to shade it a little bit from the summer sun. Most rose beds are placed in full sun, and this plant is something of an understory tree and needs at least a little shade. Native plants placed in the proper soil and conditions need very little pampering. If you are determined to do something for it, you might work a little compost into the soil. We usually suggest incorporating compost to help with drainage in a clay soil, but it will also help to keep a loose, sandy soil from draining too much.

 

From the Image Gallery


Acerola
Malpighia glabra

Acerola
Malpighia glabra

Acerola
Malpighia glabra

Acerola
Malpighia glabra

More Shrubs Questions

Native plants for a barrier hedge
October 13, 2008 - Is there a native hedge I can plant to provide privacy? I have hostile neighbors behind me and would rather plant a hedge than put up a fence. I looked through the Virginia native species and didn'...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for Pittsburgh PA
January 30, 2012 - What shrubs can I plant on a wet slope that gets partial sun that will help control erosion? They need to be something the deer won't eat! We have lots of deer.
view the full question and answer

Native tree or shrub with fruit to espalier on fence
July 23, 2010 - I live in the Austin, TX area and I would like to choose a native tree or shrub to espalier on a fence in my garden. Ideally, I would like to use a tree that bears fruit. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Pruning blue potato tree (Lycianthus rantonnei)
July 14, 2008 - I wrote earlier about a blue potato tree(Lycianthus rantonnei) the top appears dead but if you break a branch it is still green, what would happen to it if I cut all the branches forming at the bottom...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Plants for Chicago
September 13, 2014 - I live near Chicago, IL and am interested in planting a butterfly garden. Not sure when to start, but I want all native plants that would attract butterflies. Can you please let me know which plants ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center