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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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Thursday - March 31, 2011

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Frost damage to non-native Mexican Maradol papaya from San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted Mexican Maradol papaya in my San Antonio garden last year. The plants grew about 5' tall and were starting to flower. Then the winter freezes blasted them; now there's nothing left but stumps at the ground level. Will these plants grow back from the roots?

ANSWER:

We only found one article on the Mexican Maradol papaya the had any horticultural information. We got enough from that to know it is native to Mexico and South America and therefore we will have no information in our Native Plant Database. Also, the article came from Yucatan, which is way down at the southern tip of Mexico. Because the area where it grows is warmer than the USDA Hardiness Zone of Bexar County which is Zone 8b, it seems probable that damaging freezes like we have had in Central Texas in the last two years do not occur on the home territory of this plant. This is one of the reasons that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends growing only plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow natively. Native plants in an area are already acclimated by centuries of experience to the temperatures, rainfall and environment in which they are being grown. We would say that the best way to find out if your tree will grow back is to wait and see. If it doesn't show some new growth at the base pretty soon, we would recommend replacing them with something native that knows how to cope with the very unpredictable Texas weather.

 

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