Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Monday - October 25, 2010

From: Schroon Lake , NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Mulching Spring Bulbs in Upstate NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Just planted tulip bulbs for Spring. The Parks Department then put 4 inches of mulch on top. Will the tulips be able to get through and bloom come Spring? Is mulch a good winterizer for them? Indoor cactus-how often to water?

ANSWER:

Although tulips are not North American native plants and the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes" some of us here at Mr. Smarty Plants do have experience in this area. 

Your tulips will be fine.  It may take a bit longer for the soil to warm up under that thick blanket of mulch, but the shoots will eventually find their way to the surface.  That is if the squirrels don't find them before the ground freezes ... squirrels (and mice) love tulips (daffodils are poisonous).  Because tulips are one of the later spring bulbs to flower, you may find that they will not bloom for a number of years in succession. The plant requires at least six weeks for the foliage to photosynthesize in order to produce enough food for a bloom the next year.  If the weather gets hot the foliage can spoil before enough food is stored.  That is why gardeners in warmer zones usually plant tulips every year.  You are in Zone 4, so you may have great success.

As far as your cactus goes, there is no way we can advise you.  It depends on what type of cactus it is and what type of conditions you are growing it in.  You will have to watch it and act accordingly, remembering that more plants die of too much water than not enough.  Make sure the soil is dry between waterings but don't wait until the flesh loses firmness or starts to wrinkle.


 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

What to do about cold damage to spineless prickly pear?
March 05, 2010 - In Austin, Texas our 'spineless' prickly pear cactus is about 6' wide by 4' tall. In the last severe freeze, the top half flattened out and has remained that way. Should I cut the flattened pads o...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage on Barrel Cactus in Llano TX
March 04, 2011 - I believe my barrel cactus has freeze damage. The flesh turned yellow and is now turning dark. The base is still green. If I cut off the damaged top portion, leaving the green base, should it survive?...
view the full question and answer

What to do with agave after it blooms from Phoenix AZ
March 12, 2013 - Hello! I have 2 century plants in the process of blooming. How exciting!! I've never really seen it before. Anyway, what do I then do with the dying/dead plant. Simply dig it up and trash it? T...
view the full question and answer

Blue agave with freeze damage in Lockhart TX
March 16, 2011 - I recently planted a blue agave plant, and 4 days after I planted it the temperature dropped to 20 degrees at night. The plants are still alive but 75% of the outer limbs turned brown. What do I do wi...
view the full question and answer

Winterizing non-native sedum in Saskatchewan CA
October 31, 2011 - What should be done to winterize a autumn joy (sedum)?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.