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

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 Non-Natives Questions

Is non-native cotoneaster poisonous to goats from Eureka CA
August 19, 2011 - I have heard that cotoneaster is poisonous to goats and other animals. We are trying to get rid of it in our yard, but I was hoping we could use goats to eat it back. What are our options in removin...
view the full question and answer

Thinning of non-native rosemary
May 09, 2007 - I live in NW Austin and have a very large rosemary bush that is having problems this season. We trimmed the bush in early March because the plant was getting too large for the space. It is roughly 3...
view the full question and answer

Non-native gardenias in Southampton Ontario
July 31, 2012 - I purchased 3 gardenias this year for the garden. Now I'm told that I can't leave them out all year round here in mid/western Ontario. Is this true, and if so, how do I keep them over the winter i...
view the full question and answer

Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin
February 27, 2013 - I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good wa...
view the full question and answer

Identification of spiky red berry in Connecticut
September 25, 2011 - I found an odd berry outside of my school, none of the science teachers know what it is though. It kind of looks like a spiked cherry. It has spikes on the outside, a pit on the insde, and has pinkish...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center