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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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Friday - March 25, 2011

From: Humble, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Need advice for growing Texas Mountain Laurel from seed in Humble, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We live in Humble, Texas 77396 and would like to grow some Texas Mountain Laurel trees from seed. I recently read that they may not grow well in this area because they prefer the Texas Hill country and rocky soils. Do you think they would grow well here if we added a lot of crushed rock to the planting medium? Please advise. And thanks for all you do! We recently visited your Center and I will never look at a wildflower in the same way again!!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is glad that you enjoyed your visit to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Please come again soon.

Growing Texas Mountain Laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) from seed is an interesting project that can be frustrating or rewarding, or both. My first caveat is that the seeds are toxic, so if you have children involved, use caution to make sure that none of the seeds are ingested!

I'm providing several links with information that should help make this project a success. The first is the NPIN Database Page for Sophora secundiflora (click link above). Under growing conditions, you see that the plant prefers, among other things, full sun and well drained alkaline soils with a pH<7.2. The paragraph on Plant Propagation describes procedures for scarifying the seed and conditions for planting.

Here are some other links with a brief description of contents:

Plantanswers.com   good description of plant, and germination procedures

Bob Harms, UT Austin   good discussion on germination

Paul's Blog  good general information, use of limestone gravel to raise pH

Texas Gardener  (scroll down to Mountain Laurel)   talks about growing the plant in East Texas

Aridzonetrees.com   good general information

In summary, if you give the plants full sun, provide them with well drained alkaline soil, and don't over water them, they should grow in Harris County. The hardest part may be getting the seeds to germinate.


 


Sophora secundiflora

 

 

 

 

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