En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Need a shade tree for an enclosed courtyard in Las Cruces, NM
September 24, 2012 - I HAVE A WEST FACING COURTYARD ENCLOSED WITH A 6' STUCCO WALL AND I WANT TO ADD A SHADE TREE. CURRENTLY HAVE SEVERAL MESQUITE TREES, DESERT WILLOW, CHINESE PISTACHE & VITEX TREES IN THE FRONT AREA ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs native to North Georgia
March 26, 2007 - I am looking for native plants (shrubs) that will stay green during the winter in North Georgia. We are completing a xeriscape landscape plan as a demonstration site and have many native plants donate...
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurel having trouble in AZ
June 07, 2011 - A Sophora secundflora (Texas mountain laurel) was planted to an Arizona north faced front yard last year in August under full sun. Starting early this year, I noticed its leaves turn to light green an...
view the full question and answer

Pruning practices from Austin
May 16, 2013 - I need to do some pruning in my front beds and I know nothing about plants. From what I have been able to identify I have bicolor irises, plumbago, Japanese Aralia. I don't even know where to begin o...
view the full question and answer

Growing Evergreen sumac in clay soil of Texas
August 19, 2011 - I'm in need of a fast growing evergreen screening shrub/small tree. I'm considering the Evergreen Sumac but before I go further I need to know if this plant will thrive and remain evergreen in the D...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center