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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Saturday - March 30, 2013

From: kipling, SK
Region: Canada
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs, Trees
Title: Apples, pears and geraniums in Kipling, Saskatchewan
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My geranium's leaves became yellow - Why? Where can I buy a good nice apple tree? Will apples and pears grow in south Saskatchewan?

ANSWER:

How we answer depends on what geraniums we are talking about. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants are being grown; in your case, Kipling, Saskatchewan, in Central Canada just north of Montana and North Dakota. We first searched for geraniums on our Native Plant Database, and found 13 members of the genus Geranium native to North America; 2 to Saskatchewan: (pictures from our Image Gallery below)

Geranium carolinianum (Carolina geranium)

Geranium richardsonii (Richardson's geranium)

If you follow the links to our webpages, you will learn they need part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) and gravelly to clay soils.

If neither of these is what you are asking about, you probably have the bright pink, red or orange plants you can pick up blooming in a pot at nurseries or grocery stores. These belong to the genus Pelargonium. From the University of Minnesota Extension, here is a article on Indoor-Outdoor Geranium Culture. From GardenWeb, What is the Difference Between Geraniums and Pelargoniums?

From Wikipedia: "Pelargonium species are evergreen perennials indigenous to Southern Africa, and are drought and heat tolerant, but can tolerate only minor frosts. They are extremely popular garden plants, grown as bedding plants in temperate regions." We are betting that intolerance to  frosts has something to do with your yellowing leaves but, as non-natives, they are out of our range of expertise.

Now, on to the apple and pear trees. The pear tree, genus Pyrus, grows in some parts of Canada but, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map, not Saskatchewan. No member of that genus appears in our Native Plant Database so, once more, it's out of our line.

The genus Malus (apple) does appear in our database, but all are crabapples and none of them grow natively in Saskatchewan. However, Malus coronaria (Sweet crabapple) does grow in Ontario.

Which leads to your final request: where can you buy apple and pear trees? We do have a National Suppliers Directory, but since it is devoted to native plant nurseries, seed companies, and consultants it would not do you much good. We suggest you contact the University of Saskatchewan Gardening and Horticulture Programs for information on plants that will grow in your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Carolina geranium
Geranium carolinianum

Richardson's geranium
Geranium richardsonii

Sweet crabapple
Malus coronaria

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