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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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Friday - July 01, 2011

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Tx Mt. Laurel and Mex. Buckeye seed propagation in drought
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I live in the Hill Country near New Braunfels. Since I am only at my house in July and August, I would like to plant both Texas Mountain Laurel and Mexican Buckeye from the seeds harvested from mother plants on my property at that time. Am I correct in assuming that I must scarify and then soak the seeds of both plants for about a day before planting?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants would not recommend that you soak your Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) and Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye) seeds as you propose.  Fracturing the seed coat is necessary with Texas mountain laurel, but Mexican buckeye germinates without such treatment.  Germination is initiated in Texas mountain laurel only when water enters the fractured seed coat. If you will not be on hand to tend seedlings during the heat and often drought in September the plants may well expire.  I suggest that you scarify the seeds and plant them where you wish but leave it to the fall rains to provide the moisture needed to hasten germination.  By that time cooler weather will protect the young plants from drying out.

If you have not scarified hard-coated seeds before check out this web site.  I recommend the use of a file if you have only a few seeds, sandpaper for a few dozens, and perhaps sulphuric acid for a bucketfull.  Beware, sulphuric acid can cause serious burns!

 

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