Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
1 rating

Tuesday - March 19, 2013

From: Shiro, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Transplants, Shade Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Native turkscap failing to thrive in Shiro TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Two years ago I transplanted several native (not cultivars) Drummond's turkscaps in the proximity of water oaks in the front yard. All get shade and some sun. They seemed to do pretty well at first, but for the past year they have all small leaves not dark green either, very thin spindly limbs, very few flowers. They just look scraggly and stunted. My cultivars are fine and vigorous. Could this be the oak alleopathens at work, or lack of fertilizer? They do get pretty dry at times, but so do the cultivars. Soil is black clay with sandy/loamy topsoil.

ANSWER:

Nothing that we have looked at so far on this plant, including that it is native to Grimes County, gives us a good answer to your question. Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap) does well in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) and shade (2 hours or less of sun). So, we'll dig a little deeper (pun intended).

You can follow the link above to our webpage on this plant to look at the Propagation portion, from which we extracted this information:

"Large clumps of Turk’s cap may easily be separated in early spring and transplanted to a new site. Be sure to water well."

However, this does sound to us like transplant shock, which can show up for years after the initial planting. Since this plant spreads naturally by layering, you may not have obtained a sufficient amount of root material with your original transplant. We consider Turkscap to be a semi-woody plant, which means it should be transplanted in cool weather, preferably late Fall or early Spring. Note the comment that it should be watered well after it is planted. There is, indeed, always the possibility that the oaks under which you are trying to grow this plant are fighting off this competition with allelopathy. You say your cultivars are in the same area; how close together are the healthy cultivars and the ailing natives? If they are under the same oak trees, getting the same amount of shade, in the same soil, about the only conclusion we can come to is that the natives were damaged in some way in the transplanting. If you do it right away, while it is still relatively cool, you could try transplanting them again to a more favorable site and trim them back to about 6" to take some of the load off the roots. Leave some leaves, though, as those provide the nutrition for the whole plant.

And ixnay on the fertilizer. Native plants in their proper environment don't need fertilizer, and the fertilizer can push the plant into more growth, putting more stress on an already-stressed plant.

 

From the Image Gallery

More Propagation Questions

Determining ripeness of seeds of Crotonn texensis
May 01, 2007 - How can I tell when the seeds of Croton texensis are "ripe"?
view the full question and answer

Seed source for Carex texensis from Louisville KY
May 02, 2012 - Your reply to my question re a grass for my Kentucky home with cistern only water available was much appreciated, Carex texensis was recommended. I am unable to find this product for sale other than ...
view the full question and answer

Can trees survive if trunks are buried under 3-5 ft of soil?
January 27, 2012 - We have two cedar elms and a mesquite that I protected from backfill as our Texas Hill Country lot was leveled in preparation for building a house. The bulkheads are now holding back 3' to 5' of ma...
view the full question and answer

Practicality of growing bluebonnets in Germany
July 28, 2006 - I am originally from Texas, but I am living in Washington and moving to Germany for the military. I desperately miss bluebonnets and my husband picked up a big bag for me as a present and have no ide...
view the full question and answer

Starting Antelope Horn Milkweed Seeds
March 08, 2013 - I recently found a sealed plastic bag containing milkweed seeds in a cabinet drawer that I had gathered more than a year ago, (maybe two years ago). These are the "antelope horn" milkweed I think it...
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.