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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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Thursday - July 21, 2011

From: Beach Haven, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Color in non-native portulaca from Beach Haven NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I bought a portulaca in a hanging basket and divided it up and planted it in my garden. It is doing ok..but I have almost entirely orange flowers..maybe two reds. I was hoping for multi-colored..red, orange, white, pink, and yellow. Might I have an orange-only plant? How do I get mulit-colors?? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Portulaca is a tropical plant native to Brazil; some other varieties are native to North Africa. It is an annual, and probably would have been better left in the hanging basket; the colors of your blooms are entirely a function of the seeds that were sown and transplanted into the basket. You can't change flower colors, they are determined by genetics, with the very rare exception. Since your portulaca is a tropical it is not going to survive the first freeze in the Fall.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively. Since we will have no information about it in our Native Plant Database, here is an article from e-How Home on Portulaca.

 

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