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?

Share

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 - July 05, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: What fertilizer can make potted plants flower in Austin, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a Lantana and esmarelda planted in large pots. They froze last winter but have both come back strong except they do not bloom even though I have fertilized. Is there something special I need to feed them to get them to bloom in pots?

ANSWER:

In checking our Database, I find that there are four species of Lantana that grow in Texas. The name Esmeralda is used as a common name for various plants, and is also the genus name of a group of orchid plants. In short, Mr. Smarty Plants isn’t entirely sure which plants we are dealing with.

However, fertilization may be at the root of the problem, so lets talk about that.  First of all, plants that have frozen and are trying to grow back are under stress. Generally, we recommend that plants under stress shouldn’t be fertilized. In your case, the plants seem to have come back and are exhibiting good vegetative growth, but you want them to flower.

The most common elements that are found in fertilizers are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), and fertilizers containing these three elements are termed complete fertilizers. Fertilizers differ in the relative amount of these elements that they contain, and this information is found on the label of the fertilizer container (bag, bottle, etc.) It is represented by three numbers, eg 1-1-1, or 5-10-5, or 3-1-2, which are the percentages of the elements; N, P, and K in that order. This link from The Great Big Greenhouse and Nursery can tell you a lot more about fertilizer.

You didn’t mention what kind of fertilizer you used, ie the ratio of N:P:K. In some plants, flowering is inhibited if the ratio of  N/P is too high. If you used a regular lawn fertilizer, the N/P ratio in your pots may be high enough to prevent flowering. This link to Central Texas Gardening has some good tips about proper use of fertilizers.

 

More Shrubs Questions

Texas natives that attract butterflies but not deer
December 13, 2012 - I'd like to have some plants in my garden that are butterfly attractors, but that whitetail deer won't like. I can find lists of butterfly plants, and lists of deer-resistant plants -- is there a li...
view the full question and answer

Control of non-native invasive Japanese Barberry from Enfield NH
April 22, 2014 - I recently bought a home that is bordered by woods and a sizable area of invasive Japanese Barberry growing on a steep hill in and around a stone wall making it that much harder to dig up. I've alway...
view the full question and answer

Pool-side ornamentals for south Louisiana
May 07, 2012 - We live in south Louisiana and are re-doing the plants around our pool. What are some low maintenance, small shrubs (flowering) or other ornamentals that would be good in this area?
view the full question and answer

Hollies not retaining leaves in Tulsa
August 10, 2008 - I have Little Red Hollies that have lost their leaves, some areas being bald. They are also not full - you can see through them. These were planted in this condition Spring of '08 and have been wat...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for area under grand fir (Abies grandis) in Idaho
July 08, 2010 - What can I plant on a slope under Grand Fir trees in North Idaho, zone 4 - anything deer resistant?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center