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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.

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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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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!

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Tuesday - April 18, 2006

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils
Title: Proper soil for Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in San Antonio. Have taken landscape course at the center several years ago-(fabulous)! I am putting in a raised portion of the garden this year with Blackfoot Daisies. Can you tell me where to find the proper growing medium for them somewhere in this area or in Austin... will travel!

ANSWER:

Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) wants high pH soil. You should avoid adding any kind of acidifying organic matter to the soil—peat moss, tree shred, most compost, manure—but you should make sure the soil has good drainage. If it's clayey or tends to stay moist, you will want to add course sand (builders sand, or river sand) to loosen the soil and mound it up to allow more aeration. Once established, the plants will need little supplemental water unless the soil is now too porous. Liberal watering may cause them to bloom more abundantly in the short term, but ultimately shorten their lifespan.

You can check the National Suppliers Directory for nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants and supplies for them. The Austin Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas lists additional sources for native plants.

 

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