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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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


Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

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