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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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Thursday - July 13, 2006

From: Rowlett, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Transplants, Watering, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Root rot and transplant shock in Texas betony
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Texas betony is supposed to be drought resistant but also likes to be kept moist, but I have had trouble getting it established. These seem to be undemanding plants I have had entire stems dry up and turn brown but the rest of the plant appears healthy. The plant is located in an area where it gets morning shade and afternoon sun and is watered daily. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

The problem you describe is likely stem rot caused by overwatering. While it is true that well-established Texas betony, Stachys coccinea, can tolerate - and even appreciate - more frequent watering than it would receive in the wild, newly installed plants are especially sensitive to root and stem rot brought on by too much water.

To help your plants better weather transplanting, you should cut 1/3 to 1/2 of the tops off of them at planting. Hard pruning will reduce stress on the roots and will reduce the likelihood of root or stem rot. Also, allowing the soil to dry out more between waterings will help, especially while your transplants are becoming established.

 

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