Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Plants for full-sun landscape
November 20, 2007 - I live in a very rocky area just outside of Fort Worth, TX. It's taken me all spring, summer & now I'm going into the fall, to landscape just 30 feet in front of my house. The front of the house get...
view the full question and answer

Native border plants to stop erosion
February 18, 2015 - I need native border plants to assist in stopping soil erosion due to water run off from rain and the Catawba River.
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Hamelia patens in Laredo
September 19, 2008 - I have a question regarding Hamelias patens(firebush)that I have been trying to grow for 2 years. I live in Laredo, Texas and this area should be an excellent climate for this plant. I planted 12 of t...
view the full question and answer

Two Holly Cultivars for a Texas Front Landscape?
February 22, 2016 - We are starting a new with our landscape. All existing 30-year-old plants are going to be removed. We would like a focal point at the front door area and are considering 'Savannah' or 'Nellie R. St...
view the full question and answer

Low-maintenance native plants for Arizona
March 12, 2009 - Will you please suggest some Native plants that can be left without care for the summer and survive - other than cactus?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.