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?


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

Tuesday - April 26, 2011

From: Pleasant Garden, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Transplants, Vines
Title: Carolina Jasmine failing to turn green in Pleasant Garden NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We planted Carolina Jasmine last year and it did great. This Spring we only have about 2-3 small green leaves beginning on the vines. We did not cut them back in the Fall. Is it time for them to be turning green?


This is a little puzzling. According to our Native Plant Database page (which read) on Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine), this plant is evergreen and blooms yellow from December to May. I know everyone on the East Coast had unusually cold weather this past Winter. Did your plant have leaves on it that dropped off in the cold? In view of the fact that it is supposed to be evergreen, those few leaves may be all that survived the cold. Don't give up, yet. According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, Guilford County, in north central North Carolina, is slightly out of the natural range of this plant; however, we don't think it is far enough to be significant. The fact that it was just planted last year makes us think of transplant shock. If it was planted in very hot or very cold weather, or the roots were somehow damaged in the transplanting, the plant may still be trying to recover from that. The results of transplant shock can show up from one to three years after the planting. We would suggest you coddle it a bit, trim off some of the dead growth (in the process, seeing if there is some green under the bark), and keep it well-watered. Do not fertilize. Fertilizing a plant under stress, which this one obviously is, will result in trying to push the plant into new growth when the plant is just trying to survive. If it does begin to leaf out, we don't think you can expect any bloom on it this year, but if you cover it if there is extreme cold again, we think it will rise to bloom again next year.


From the Image Gallery

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

More Pruning Questions

Hedge of native Purple Sage in Austin
November 20, 2008 - Hi, I would like to plant a dense hedge of Purple Sage that will hopefully grow from 6-8 ' tall and about 4' wide. I purchased the Silverado Sage Leucophyllum frutescens 'Berstar Dwarf' variety....
view the full question and answer

What to do about volunteer trees growing beneath a large live oak tree in Austin, TX
January 08, 2013 - We have a large live oak tree. Several volunteer trees are growing directly underneath it and into its branches. I want to cut them down if they are going to hurt the long term health of the live oak....
view the full question and answer

Pruning of Bauhinia lunarioides
May 29, 2008 - I have a Bauhinia variegata..when is the best time to prune it? it tends to grow horizontally..where do you clip off the limbs?
view the full question and answer

Replacing non-native boxwood in Austin
October 03, 2011 - I have a large maze garden, possibly boxwood, originally planted in the 1950's, in Austin, Texas. About 1/3 of it has died out, probably due to drought, heat and age. Should I attempt to replant ju...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Texas Mountain Laurel
September 04, 2014 - I've had a Texas mountain laurel for 4 years that's being trained into a tree. I think it was a 3-year old tree when I purchased it. Unfortunately, it has suffered from overwatering, and the two mai...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center