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

Wednesday - June 06, 2012

From: Woodbridge, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: General Botany, Soils, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Weak stems on asters and ironweed from Woodbridge ON
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My question is in regards to plants flopping over. My smooth asters and ironweeds never seem to have strong stems. Is because the soil is too fertile or maybe too shallow?

ANSWER:

You may be eligible for the "I stumped Mr. Smarty Plants award!" We found an answer but it was talking about marigolds, but we think it's possible the same answer may be true for your plants. Read this article from eHow Why do Flowers on Marigolds Bend? From that article:

"Overhead watering may cause stem breakage and bending if blossoms become saturated; always water at the base of the plants.

Marigolds are heliotropic, meaning their flowers and leaves turn toward the sunlight whether the plants are grown indoors or out. Cells near the base of the blossoms control the bending, by shrinking or enlarging to move the flowers toward the light source. By keeping marigolds in full sunlight all day, you'll help avoid this survival mechanism and keep flowers from possibly bending away from main focal areas of the garden."

There are four species of the gender Vernonia (ironweed) native to Ontario: Vernonia fasciculata (Prairie ironweed)Vernonia gigantea (Giant ironweed)Vernonia missurica (Missouri ironweed) and Vernonia noveboracensis (New york ironweed). Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve (Smooth blue aster) is also native to Ontario. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to see if you get any clues of what you might be doing wrong in terms of soil or watering of those plants. We did some extra research on heliotropism, which obviously occurs in many plants.

We checked all of these ourselves and concluded that all could do well in moist, fertile soils and full sun. About the only possibility that presents itself to us, since we cannot see the plants, is the caution against overhead watering, which can weigh down large heads of flowers, thus bending the stem.

 

From the Image Gallery


Giant ironweed
Vernonia gigantea

Missouri ironweed
Vernonia missurica

Smooth blue aster
Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve

More Soils Questions

Nassella tenuissima for Woodland Hills CA
June 30, 2013 - Good afternoon, I wanted to purchase some already grown Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) and was wondering how often and for how long I would need to water said grass on a scheduled sprinkl...
view the full question and answer

Growing Native Plants in Juniper litter from Wimberley, TX
October 04, 2010 - Junipers create an environment under their canopy that prohibits growth of other plants. I have a virgin lot that has been cleared of many juniper but has remaining heavy natural leaf mold containing...
view the full question and answer

What grows in Tampa FL
July 01, 2013 - Please let me know what grows in the backyard in Tampa, FL to provide screening and privacy?
view the full question and answer

Restoring disturbed land in Marshall, TX.
December 04, 2014 - I have a 30 acre tract of land in Marshall, Texas. The oil company has turned 2-3 acres surrounding the rig into gravel. I would like to return the gravel area to green space. Any suggestions on gras...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in Pittsburgh PA
April 25, 2013 - I have a similar question to one from SC. I live in Pittsburgh, PA. We have a steep slope behind a newly built in pool. What type of plants can I put on the hillside to hold the soil. It gets a ...
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