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

Thursday - December 22, 2011

From: Denver, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Taking stock in where and what you grow in Denver Colorado
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse

QUESTION:

I have two year old stock plants growing in a container in my home and they are finally starting to bloom. However, the buds open but don't produce any petals. Also they are experiencing yellow leaves. Should I fertilize? A similar thing is happening to marigolds, also in a pot. They are small plants but produce a ton of buds; however, these are now turning brown instead of opening. Please help!

ANSWER:

The Flower most commonly referred to as stock is Matthiola incana which is a non native. It hails from southern Europe. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center helps to promote and protect native plants so we cannot offer real expertise with non native species, but will try and answer the question with some basics.

Stock is most commonly listed as an annual, but it can live for several years as a hardy annual and some states list it as a perennial. It is hardy to about five degrees fahrenheit, it is not frost tender. Denver Colorado is listed as right on the cusp of what a stock plant can take in terms of cold so you might be dealing with a plant that just isn't going to behave as a hardy annual or perennial. You may have to replant these plants annually to really get the most out of the species. Another common issue with plants producing buds and then dropping them before they open, is the lack of fertilization or some times over fertilization. This is a common problem with non native plants. You are trying to fool this plant into thinking it is growing in southern Europe and it just isn't so you have to manipulate its soil, light and food to make it happy and that's a tedious task.

There are some fun natives that have a similar appearance to Matthiola incana that you could have in a pot that are perennial. Two are blue only, but they are pretty cute. Delphinium nuttallianum (Delphinium) and Delphinium barbeyi (Subalpine larkspur). The other has a paler color, light to fairly deep pink Penstemon jamesii (James's beardtongue). The advantages of planting natives over non natives are numerous but for your specific problem you will find that these plants will out live your stock and you won't have to fuss with soil amendments or heavy fertilization. 

Lastly, you mention that your plants are in your home. If the pot is in the house you have a whole other set of problems. Neither stock nor marigolds would be truly happy indoors, even in Colorado. If you are looking for indoor plants then check in with your local nursery, they should have plenty of indoor plant suggestions. The difference between the two has to do with temperature, light requirements and dormancy. Indoor plants have been bred specifically to grow in a controlled environment and if this is where your pots are, then skip the suggestions above and grow some plants that can live indoors, there are plenty of blooming options for you.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


James's penstemon
Penstemon jamesii

Subalpine larkspur
Delphinium barbeyi

Twolobe larkspur
Delphinium nuttallianum

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Need perennials for front beds in south-facing house ib San Angelo, TX.
February 12, 2012 - What perennials will work in my front beds of southern facing house in West Texas?
view the full question and answer

Fertilizer amounts for native perennials in Belton, TX
March 18, 2009 - I am a novice gardener and need advice on how to fertilize my native perennials. I would like to use organic fertilizer and need advice on exactly what to use. I have a compost pile but it does not ...
view the full question and answer

Low maintenance, low growing native plants
August 21, 2007 - Mr. Smarty Plants, Could you recommend several low growing easy to maintain plants for planting next to our house. The area for the plants is next to the house(white stone) in between the house and t...
view the full question and answer

Pictures and information on Scutellaris laterifolia, Blue Skullcap
June 19, 2006 - I am trying to find information on Scutellaria laterifolia (skullcap), of the plant family "labiatea". Do you have any info or pictures? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep bank in Pennsylvania
July 12, 2011 - What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center