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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 - September 28, 2006

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Excessive nitrogen inhibiting coreopsis blooms
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I planted coreopsis in the summer last year and they bloomed profusely nonstop from June 2005 to April 2006. However, this past summer, continuing to present time, my coreopsis have not bloomed at all nor do they show signs of incoming bloom. These coreopsis are in my Austin home. Please advise! I also planted the same coreopsis in my other house in Ponca City Oklahoma. They just started showing a few blooms. It seems like thay are more foliage than blooms. Please advise!

ANSWER:

The description you give for your coreopsis plants makes us think that they are getting too much nitrogen. High soil fertility will result in lots of plant and foliage growth, but suppress flowering. If you've been feeding your coreopsis it would be a good idea to stop, or at least decrease the amount of nitrogen in the fertilizer. Some natural fertilizers, especially manure-based ones are especially high in nitrogen. Plants receiving too much nitrogen will typically have very dark green, leathery foliage.
 

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