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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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Saturday - April 02, 2011

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Will non-native Alchemilla mollis grow in Georgetown, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

While living in Connecticut I had a favorite plant -- Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis). Any chance I could grow it in my new herbaceous border in Sun City Texas (Georgetown, TX)?

ANSWER:

We wouldn't bet on it. In fact, this particular member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team tried it, over and over, in our garden in Arlington, TX. We had been reading too many books and articles about English gardens and were very excited when we found it in a local nursery. This was before we began volunteering with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which the plants grow natively. Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle) is native to Turkey and the Carpathian Mountains; therefore, we have no information on it in our Native Plant Database.

There is good reason for restricting your gardening to plants native to your area-they are already accustomed by centuries of experience to the local rainfall (and lack of same), temperatures and soils. This article from the University of Vermont Extension says the plant is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones of 4 to 7. Georgetown, TX is in Zone 8b. You might be able to purchase it in local nurseries, but just because something is sold locally doesn't mean it will grow locally. You could spend a lot of resources, like water, money and hard work obtaining and planting something that just isn't going to survive. We did see some warnings that it could be invasive, but we don't think there is any danger of that in Texas.

 

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