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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 - June 14, 2011

From: Clearwater Bch, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: poor blooming on (non-native) plumbago
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I recently purchased several blue Plumbago plants that were covered in blooms. We planted them in our front beds that receive about 5 hours of morning sun then afternoon shade. I have watered them every other day to get them established and the plants look very healthy but all the blooms are gone and have not rebloomed at all after the first week of being in the beds. What do I need to do and do they need some bloom fertilizer? We live in Florida where Plumbago is often used in flower beds.

ANSWER:

There are some U.S. native species of plumbago, e. g., Plumbago scandens (Doctorbush), but I expect you have a different and more common species, Plumbago ariculata, which is a native of South Africa.  Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't keep info on non-native plants, so I can't be of much help.  However, I am sympathetic since I have had a similar problem with P. ariculata myself. This plant blooms on the current year's growth, so trimming back the branches, and particularly the spent flower heads, should encourage a new round of growth and new flowers.  Now that your plants are established, cut back on the water. They are drought-resistant, and too much water will promote vegetative growth in preference to flowers. If you fertilize, give them a high phosphorus fertilizer.  Good luck!

 

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