En Español

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

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!

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


Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

Barbados cherry
Malpighia glabra

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Plants for floodplain in Fairfield, New Jersey
March 21, 2010 - I have an easy question for you... I hope... We just moved into the floodplains of NJ in Fairfield and are interested in some plants. We would like to know what plants are best suited to grow in flood...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for heavy dog traffic in Huntsville TX
July 23, 2010 - We have recently moved to Huntsville, TX where our backyard is very shady and has only a small patch of St. Augustine grass and the rest is a dry, sand-like soil. We also have 2 Great Danes and 2 Pugs...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in non-native crape myrtle from Wesley Chapel, FL
June 12, 2012 - I just bought a 12 ft. crape myrtle and planted it, giving it plenty of water I think. After 3 days the leaves are wilting and flowers are falling off.
view the full question and answer

Potting soil used in Wildflower Center nursery
October 23, 2008 - I recently purchased several beautiful little plants at your Fall plant sale and notice how very happy and healthy they all are! Please tell me if you mix your own potting soil and what your potting ...
view the full question and answer

Live oak leaves turning yellow after planting in Houston
December 19, 2011 - We bought a 65 gallon live oak in early October, and have been watering fairly heavily three days a week. It seemed OK, then all of a sudden lots of the leaves are turning yellow. Is it getting too ...
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