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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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Tuesday - December 11, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Seeds and Seeding
Title: Agarita and Mexican Buckeye not flowering or fruiting.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

The Greenbelt behind our home has a ton of agarita and Mexican buckeye, but they never bloom or berry. The pigeon berry is very happily doing both all year. Any suggestions for helping the agerita and Mexican buckeye? THANKS.

ANSWER:

Both Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) and Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) are typically very reliable for flowering and fruiting, so you're seeing something a bit unusual.  Both species flower early in spring, so it's possible cold weather could play a role in them failing to flower some years, but it is doubtful freezing would kill the developing flower buds of these plants every year.  Of course, if there are no flowers, there naturally be no fruit following.

Most often, lack of flowering is an indication of too little light, in other words, too much shade.  We know of no other factor that would likely be the cause of the problem.

 

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